Oh, this book. I am having a really difficult time articulating my thoughts on this one. This is not the sort of book I would normally pick up. It isn't the sort of book I would normally enjoy. But it was brilliant, and heartbreaking, and lovely, and terrifying, and I am so glad I read it. However, I'm not sure how it would go over with its target middle grade audience. I loved it, but I somehow doubt that your average twelve-year-old would get the same enjoyment out of it.A Monster Calls tells the story of thirteen-year-old Conor O'Malley. His mother is undergoing treatments for cancer that don't seem to be going so well, his father has long since moved to America and started a new family, and he hates his grandmother's increasing presence in his life. And Conor has been having a horrible nightmare. Then the monster shows up, a giant, menacing yew tree who visits Conor. Conor is unafraid of the tree, since it pales in comparison to his nightmare, but he finds himself frustrated by its insistence that Conor has called him and that the monster must tell Conor three stories in exchange for the tale of Conor's own secret nightmare.The whole book is accompanied by gorgeous, haunting black and white mixed media illustrations that add depth and mood to the story. This wouldn't be the same book without the illustrations, which is the mark of a great illustrator.I found the book terrifying. Because really, I have a hard time imagining anything more scary than being a thirteen-year-old only child of a single parent, and watching that parent die of cancer. I happen to be the only child of a single parent, and when I was younger, the only fear that could cause me to totally break down and sob just from my own imaginings was the fear of my mom dying, leaving me totally alone (extended family didn't really count, since they weren't home like my mom was). So this book struck a chord in me because of that.I didn't really expect to like the story, when I realized how obviously metaphorical everything in the whole damned book was. I'm not usually one for metaphor--I like my books to say what they mean and mean what they say, and too much literary styling drives me bonkers. But for some reason, it worked here. I would love to see this discussed in a literature class (but of course it won't, since books for children are totally dismissed by literary scholars).I'm not quite sure who to recommend this book to, since it falls into such a genre gray area, so I guess I'll just have to recommend it to everyone. Read this book. It's a slim volume, with large text, huge margins, and tons of (beautiful) pictures, so it's only a couple hours of your time. I don't think you'll regret it.