This book was written by Patrick Ness, but it was inspired by Siohban Dowd. Dowd died of cancer before she could write the book, so Ness just put it into his own words and then credited her with the inspiration, so as not to disrespect the deceased. (Ness has written a lot of other books). This story takes place somewhere between 1990 and 2010, and somewhere in Europe. I don’t know exactly when or where. The book has now been made into a movie.
This is a tale of a boy whose mother has a cancer that is rapidly killing her. All treatments are failing, one-by–one. The boy’s name is Conor O’Malley. Conor is bullied physically by a boy named Harry and threatened mentally by a nightmare, in which his mother stands on the edge a cliff as a monster lurks nearby. He first started having the nightmare when Harry began to bully him – it has repeated every night since his mom first got sick. The repeating part of this makes you feel bad for Connor.
Then one night at 12:07am a monster came. Not the one from his nightmare, but a sort of tree-like creature, who says he was here before us all. (He may be some sort of green man, like an Ent). The monster says that Conor called him. He also says that he will tell Conor three apocryphal stories that will help him. As these stories get told, though, life gets worse for Conor. First his mom has to permanently go to the hospital. This is after the first story about a murdering prince and a kind Queen who is a witch. He then ruins his grandmother’s prized living room. This follows a story about an apothecary who is shunned by a parson. When the parson’s daughters get very sick and he begs the apothocary to heal them, the apothecary can’t. And then one night the monster came walking through and he destroyed the parson’s home. (If you want to learn why you will have to read the book). Even though this seems bad I feel like it brings them – Conor and his Grandmother – closer together. The third story makes him break someone physically (it is Harry). Harry calls Conor invisible and then the monster say that the third story is about a man who was invisible but made himself seen. After all of this, he has to admit his deepest darkest secret.
I’m trying not to give it all away. These stories help Conor deal with what is going on in his life. You will have to read the book to find out.
I loved this book, it was pretty emotional though. Especially if anyone in your family has died of cancer. I would give this book to anyone who was feeling alone and scared. I also liked that it taught me that sometimes you need to go into the dark to be brought into the light.