Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, after an idea inspired by Siobhan Dowd. Catch up on pages 1-22, pages 23-43, pages 44-65, and pages 66-85.
Let’s get started!
Commentary by Vinesha:
Reading these three chapters, I see Conor coming more into his own. He seems to be finding his voice through the chaos swirling around him. In the first section, it was refreshing to see Conor being vulnerable and open with his dad — having those difficult conversations. These kinds of chats when trying to voice my deep, challenging thoughts are a struggle – and this was the case during my cancer journey too – and so I admire Conor for being able to share things on his mind, even amidst the difficult circumstances surrounding him. It’s unfortunate his dad didn’t fully understand and also made light of the implicit worries laced in Conor’s words when he was sharing his thoughts on the situation and the yew tree monster to his dad. I’m sure Christmas celebrations are the furthest thing from Conor’s mind, except that it was yet another uncertain day ahead that he wouldn’t know how his life would look.
Conor ends up alone at his grandma’s and we see fear, anger, and trying to hang onto control as he dismantles some of the clock. Seeing this taking place, the yew tree dream state takes over again as Conor is given support, handed control, and asked (given permission) to release his aggression, feelings, and anger. Conor was finally validated for the journey he was going through, which the yew tree has had time to intimately understand.
It will be interesting to see the aftermath of the household destruction in relationships with his family. I’m also taking note of how it will impact Conor to be given some grasp of control when his life is seemingly falling apart.
Commentary by Brittany:
In this chapter, Conor’s dad arrives. It’s a big moment since his dad lives in America with his new family. It seems like everyone knows what is going to happen but Conor. Conor is in denial. He knows something is up but he just doesn’t want to believe it.
Conor tells his dad about the yew tree to try and stop his dad from talking about the future. He just wants everything to be the same and not change.
“Americans Don’t Get Much Holiday”
Conor’s grandma is in the hospital to visit his mother and his dad is going back to America. Conor is upset to hear the news of his dad’s short visit. He must feel abandoned since his dad is leaving him. He has no one to run to. When he gets back to his grandma’s house and is all alone, Conor’s takes out some aggression on his grandmother’s clock.
At the end of the chapter, the monster arrives.
“The Second Tale”
The monster comes back to tell Conor the second story. I really love the second story. The story is about the Apothecary, the parsonage, and medicine. The Apothecary wants the yew tree so he could use it for medicine but the parson wouldn’t let him have access to it. The parson didn’t agree with the Apothecary’s ways. When the parson’s daughters grew sick with no cure in sight, he begged the Apothecary for help. The Apothecary remembered the past and declined. The daughters died that night.
Join in next Monday for comments and discussion on the next 20 pages of the book!
Thanks for joining us for pages 86-107 (“Champ,” “Americans Don’t Get Much Holiday,” and “The Second Talk”) of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness! Join in next Monday for the next chapters of the book!
We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done. If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday. Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss. We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end! Join in, in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!
Excited about the young adult cancer book club? Have any suggestions for future reads? Let us know!