It is hard to know what to say about this short, powerful book without giving too much away. And I am not very clear-thinking right now but I will try. It’s so emotional. About a boy who feels isolated, lonely and upset and very very angry (though he doesn’t want to admit it). His mother has a terminal illness- cancer. It’s never stated outright in the book, but it was obvious not too far into the story how serious that was. Only nobody seems to want to talk about it with Conor. Or they try, but he isn’t ready or can’t face it yet. Kids at school don’t know what to say so they avoid him. Bullies pick on him. When his mother’s illness worsens and she goes into the hospital, Conor has to stay with his grandmother who is strict. His father comes to visit but that’s mostly awkward. Meanwhile, all this time Conor keeps having nightmares. Nightmares in the daytime, too. Where he’s visited by a monster personified in a giant yew tree. The monster tells him stories that have strange outcomes- people not getting what you’d expect (in terms of justice). Those really made me think a lot. They made Conor angry. But in the end, he comes to understand, and to be able to speak his own truth. To accept what’s happening. And even start to patch up a friendship.
This book reminded me very strongly of one I read many years ago, My Friend the Painter by Lygia Bojunga Nunes- also about grief. Looking back through my blog, I’m surprised I haven’t written about that one here yet. I wish I had more to say right now but just can’t. Perhaps I will come back and add to this post or make notes in the comments.