Monday, October 30, 2017


The Boy Who Drew Monsters
Keith Donohue

Ms. Hen decided to read this novel because she loves Halloween books and wanted to read something scary. She had read another book by the author, THE MOTION OF PUPPETS, last Halloween season, and enjoyed it immensely. She didn’t realize that THE BOY WHO DREW MONSTERS actually takes place during Christmas, but Ms. Hen thinks it’s also a perfect novel for Halloween.

This novel frightened Ms. Hen. Books don’t usually scare her, but this one is genuinely terrifying. The other two books she read for Halloween this year were not as scary. They were interesting and insightful, but Ms. Hen wasn’t shaking in her feathers. But, she couldn’t stop reading THE BOY WHO DREW MONSTERS. There are certain books that Ms. Hen cannot put down, those that she reads every minute of the day, and this is one of them.

This novel is about a family that lives by the ocean in Maine. Holly, the wife, and Tim the husband, worry about their son, Jack, or J.P. because he has Asperger Syndrome and is on the high functioning end of autism. Jack had an incident in the ocean with his friend Nick, and he does not leave the house anymore. He became an inside boy. Jack and Nick play in the house, they go through phases of what they do, they play war, and Jack starts drawing monsters. He draws them constantly.

One of the aspects of this novel that Ms. Hen likes is that the secrets do not reveal themselves all at once. The reader can guess what is lurking beneath, but the truth about everything is not known right away. We can imagine the monsters; the adults try to prove that they are not real, and they are just imagination, but Ms. Hen knew the what was real the whole time. Ms. Hen liked that the story of why Jack was an inside boy was not explained at first. And Ms. Hen guessed about the situation with Nick and his parents, but she was not sure until the end. This novel is a magnificent example of how to write with suspense.

This book is full of characters placed for a reason. The priest is a kind man who wants to listen; his housekeeper, Miss Tiramaku, helps Holly understand things about her son that she needs to see; the police officer named Pollock is a comic atypical cop; the Wheelers are happy drunks, but hide a sad story. All of these characters play out the parts of the story that need to be told.  

There were no chickens in this novel, sadly, but the family did eat turkey on Christmas. Ms. Hen was so scared by the monsters that she did not pay attention to the lack of chickens or hens.

Ms. Hen has become a big fan of the author Keith Donohue. The two books she read by him are perfect for Halloween. She loves how both books do not have predictable endings; they are not tied up nicely in a package for the reader. Ms. Hen likes being upset and jolted by a book, because that is what life is like, not everything is neat and perfect. Especially in today’s world. But Ms. Hen admires the dark parts of things, and if you do too, you will love this novel.

Chai and a cannoli, Ms. Hen stayed at home

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