‘There’s that old yew tree,’ as if she was talking to herself.
There is nothing special about Conor. His mother is sick and, while she tells him she is okay and everything is fine, even Conor doesn’t completely believe her. His father lives in America with his new family and rarely stays in touch. The teachers ignore his lack of participation in class and missed assignments, students whisper in the halls and he is bullied by a group of boys that take pleasure in not only afflicting physical pain but emotional abuse, watching him cringe as they talk about his mother. Conor is largely ignored and fulfils the household duties is mother is no longer able to accomplish.
Then there is the yew tree. This large tree on the hill visible from his bedroom window, a source of foundation and comfort for his mother, but for Conor it transforms into a monster who visits at 12:07 pm like clockwork. With all that he has had to face, Conor is not afraid of the monster, but that is not the monster’s goal.
This monster wants something from Conor: a truth.
This is one of those amazing books that can connect to a vast and diverse audience. Young or old, the message and the way that message is delivered is pure brilliance and is breathtaking. Days later, I still get emotional thinking about Conor and his family.
In the beginning, I thought the monster’s “I will tell you 3 stories” was reminiscent of A Christmas Carol and the 3 ghosts of Christmas. The stories the monster tells are engaging and are a sort of fairy tale on steroids with a lesson to be learned in the end.
I have so many highlights and notes in this book and I quickly became emotionally connected to Conor. I found myself lost in a world of words, reading line after line in a frenzy of sorts.
Even days later, I have dreams about this book and I mean that as the highest form of compliment I can give to a book.
Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?
This was one of my favorite quotes from the ENTIRE book. I cannot even begin to explain how this touched my very core!
And then there was:
The justifications of men who kill should always be heard with skepticism.
I want to share this with everyone I know.
And there are SOOO many beautiful quotes to gather from this book, but if I share too many, I will give the entire book away.
The tales the monster from the yew tree tells Conor are not the kind of fables or fairy tales you would expect. They’re on steroids. There is death and betrayal, deceit and twist endings.
Conor, as well as myself, learns from the monster that sometimes witches are worth saving, that belief in a cure is just as powerful as the cure itself and that there are worse things than being invisible to those around you.
What Conor ultimately has to face is his mother’s illness and the truth that no one else needed to know. Conor faces the monster by telling the truth and in the end recognizes that he was the one that needed healing.
You were merely wishing for the end of pain, the monster said. Your own pain. An end to how it isolated you. It is the most human wish of all.
A powerful book for anyone that has ever experienced the loss of a loved one, battled with a bully, or simply gone through adolescence.
I rarely give 5 stars to a book on Goodreads/Amazon. RARELY! But, a book that has me dreaming for days, that I would (and will) recommend to any and everyone, that I would read again in a heartbeat despite the emotional response it triggers, and that makes me want to read it again to catch the nuances I missed the first time around…. deserves/warrants/should only receive the ever-elusive 5 star rating.
A beautiful story Patrick Ness! I think Siobhan Dowd would be proud, as you should be, because this book speaks volumes to those who have the pleasure of turning the pages.