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Good grief: bereavement literature for young adults and A Monster Calls
  1. Giskin Day
  1. Correspondence to Giskin Day, Science Communication Unit, Centre for Co-Curricular Studies, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK;{at}


Recent years have seen a proliferation of critically acclaimed novels for young adults dealing with bereavement. This is part of a ‘bereavement turn’—a contemporary cultural movement to examine publicly our attitudes to death and grieving. This paper examines the narrative strategies in Patrick Ness's award-winning novel A Monster Calls to look at the ways in which the psychic burden of the impending loss of a parent through cancer is managed. The book draws on conventions of children's literature to create a sense of familiarity that helps to balance the emotional stress of the story. The Kübler-Ross stages of grief serve as a heuristic that helps the story deliver catharsis in spite of its inevitably traumatic subject matter. A Monster Calls is an important addition to the canon of fictional pathography.

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