“Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster rumbled.” (p. 35)
A Monster Calls left me breathless. Speechless. And completely incapable of producing a coherent review. All I had were a bunch of words tumbling around in my head, an ache in my heart, and one charge: READ IT. Below, see my best attempt at captivating what this book meant to me.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Young Adult fiction | 224 pages | Candlewick | September 2011 | 0763655597 | Library copy
All year long, the residents of West Lake look forward to Hell House, the annual haunted house of sin. Sixteen-year-old Lacey Anne Byer is especially excited because this year she can try out for one of the lead roles, and there is nothing better than having the chance to win lost souls to Christ. But this turns out to be a year of change for Lacey, beginning with the arrival of Ty Davis, a cute, funny, smart boy she can’t stop thinking about. Controversial events in Lacey’s small town cause doubts to swirl in her mind, and issues that seemed so black and white before have suddenly become muddled shades of gray. As her faith is tested, Lacey is forced to examine what she believes, who she loves, and where her loyalties lie.
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Young adult | 273 pages | July 2011 | Bloomsbury | 1599905272 | Library copy
“For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel. Fate drove us there, Jane would say. No, it was the greedy landlord who sold our vacation house on Cape Cod, someone else would say, probably Skye.” (p. 1)
When their regular vacation home is sold, the Penderwicks find themselves in need of a new summer cottage. Arundel is not at all what they expected – a gorgeous mansion with sweeping gardens and an amazing cottage. Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty are thrilled by the enchanting property. Even more exciting is the prospect of a new friend in Jeffrey, the young boy who lives at the mansion. Three glorious weeks spread before the girls. What kind of adventures will they have…and what kind of trouble will they get into?
It’s taken me almost 2 years to pick up The Penderwicks and I’m glad I finally did. It is an utterly sweet and charming book about sisters, family bonds, friendship and growing up. It reminded me a lot of Little Women, from the relationships between the sisters, to the characteristics of the girls themselves. There is Rosalind, the practical, maternal older sister (similar to Meg March). Then there’s Skye, the endearingly fiesty loudmouth and dreamy, creative Jane (in these two I saw traces of Jo and Amy) and finally little Batty, the shy baby sister (just like Beth). There isn’t a lot of action in the book, but Birdsall’s strength is her ability to accurately capture the unique bond that can occur between sisters. Having grown up with 2 sisters myself, I can see a lot of my own childhood in The Penderwicks. It was a delight to revist those carefree joyful days. 🙂
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Juvenile fiction | 272 pages | June 2005 | Knopf Books | 0375831436 | Library copy