Hello, lovely people!
Today, I wanted to do something different. Writing a standard review didn’t feel right for this book. So, instead of a review, I am trying out something different, and not just an ‘I liked this and I didn’t like that’ kind of post. More like an ‘I am writing in my diary’ post. This book brought forward a great message, and I wanted to talk about it in a more personal way.
I read this book in one or two days. When it ended, I had the feeling like I had woken up from a dream. It’s one of those rare cases where the book quite literally takes over your life. Even today, I’m still convinced this is one of my best reads.
So, as you all of you who have read this story probably know that Patrick Ness tells the story of Conor O’Malley, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives together with his mum in a small town.
One night, at seven minutes past midnight, after having had a terrible nightmare, a monster calls Conor to his window. Much to my surprise, Conor wasn’t afraid one bit. Only startled, and confused. At that moment, I realised that Conor must be coping with something so horrible that even a horrible creature can’t scare him. It’s scarier than the creature that is holding him up in the air, squeezing him tight.
I wondered why the author chose a monster to come to Connor. Why and how would it help Connor?
Answer: nothing is able to beat Connor’s horrors than another one.
Of course, this one was not an evil creature who escaped the underworld. It was good, and Connor’s only chance of making everything make sense, and to help Connor face his own monsters.
What was it then that Conor was so afraid of? What truth didn’t he want to reveal?
Let’s start with this; Conor’s mother is gravely ill. He catches sad, compassionate eyes everywhere he goes, and people let him get away with almost every wrong thing he does, out of compassion of course. But it does more wrong than good. It certainly does not make Conor feel better.
He doesn’t like to be looked at as ‘the poor guy with the sick mother’. He wants to be punished for the bad things he does. He wants to be like any other thirteen-year-old boy.
Conor also has bullies. Three guys regularly come up to him to beat him up, throw away his stuff or tease him about his mother. Most victims would ask them to stop, but Conor doesn’t. He is quiet and does nothing. It took me a while to understand why he acted like that. At first, I was frustrated he let them walk over him like that, but it’s actually very simple.
They noticed Conor, and they didn’t feel sympathy for him. And he didn’t feel completely alone because they saw him, saw him in a way nobody else did.
His home situation is a whole other case. His mother is too sick to do ‘the usual fun stuff’ with her son and his father lives overseas with a new wife and daughter. The grandmother is very present in Conor’s life. Unfortunately, they don’t quite get along. Conor thinks his grandmother is weird and annoying. The other way around it doesn’t seem to go well either. The grandmother always picks on the boy, and it seems like she sees him as a burden to her and his mother.
These factors make Conor increasingly frustrated. But he can’t admit to what he is feeling deep inside.
And that’s the reason why the monster came.
To me, these stories didn’t seem to make much sense at first. A prince who is both a murderer and a saviour. An apothecary who is evil-tempered but right-thinking. Invisible men making themselves more lonely by being seen. All these stories carried the message that not everything has to make sense. The human mind contradicts itself more than it speaks to reason.
That’s what Conor desperately needed to realise. His mother had been getting sicker by day, and none of the treatments ended up working. Slowly, but surely Conor understood that his mother wouldn’t live for very much longer. It killed him to think about it, so he shoved it away, pretended like that moment would never happen.
But it did.
Conor’s mother was going to die, and there was nothing that he could do about it. His mother had been suffering for so long, and it needed to stop. Conor realised this. His mother needed to die for her to stop hurting. And that was Connor’s real monster, the one that haunted him everywhere he went, even in his sleep.
Conor didn’t want his mother to suffer any longer. He loved his mother very much, and he wanted to finally let her rest in peace. It pained him so much that he had this thought inside him. He was the monster. Only that was proven a lie by the creature, the one Conor wasn’t impressed by in the beginning. He showed the boy that he wasn’t evil wanting his mother to stop hurting.
You can love someone by letting them go. The mind is a strange thing, but in the end, it’s our actions that matter. What’s most important, is to speak the truth. Only that way Conor was going to be strong and able to deal with the loss of his mother. Only that way he could love his mother fully, and therefore himself.
Thank you so much for reading!
What did you think of this post? I know it’s a bit different than usual, but it felt really good writing like this.