I’ve kicked off 2016 with Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters. Technically, I started this book in December, but only read the beginning until January rolled around. This book was recommended to me dozens of times, but only recently did I decide to actually purchase it. Now that I have, I can’t believe I didn’t listen to my recommenders. It’s safe to say that 2016’s reading list has started off with a bang.
Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is about an autistic boy named Jack Peter (often referred to as Jip) living with agoraphobia. After him and his friend Nick almost drowned three years ago, Jack Peter has grown terrified of the outside world and occupies himself with different activities at home. However, when his new hobby of drawing begins to stir up strange incidents around his house, everyone starts to get on edge. Tim and Holly (Jip’s parents) can’t agree as to what is real and what is in their minds, clouded by their own issues and stress. Nick, Jip’s only friend staying with them over the holidays, is desperate to get away from him and the incessant drawings, only to find himself pulled into the world of monsters. But the more Jack Peter draws, the stranger things get until everyone must confront the truth about the monsters and what is really going on.
What I enjoyed most about Donohue’s book was how fluidly he switched between characters and how he did not always stay in their thoughts. I went into this book having just read Cappa’s Night Sea Journey, which is also set in a small town by the coast. In Cappa’s novel, the reader spends most of his or her time in the mental state of the protagonist. However, Donohue was able to balance action with thought, which I found wonderful for a novel set basically in a home on the coast of Maine and nowhere else. I lived through moments with all of the characters, making it easier to connect with them and understand the complexity of the issues they were dealing with internally and externally.
I also commend Donohue for writing about autism. Although he walked a fine line by writing Jack Peter with autism in a novel where its obvious he’s rejected by most, it puts into perspective how people react to mental conditions – in their children, friends, neighbors, or anyone else. It forced me to take a step back and think beyond the story he was creating. And while I can’t say I was fond of the ending (mostly how it came on suddenly and all at once in a not-so-good-way), I still felt that need to read as fast as I could to find out if my assumptions were correct.
I wish it had been better, or different, or something else.
Maybe I just wasn’t ready for it to end.
But overall, my time reading The Boy Who Drew Monsters was not a waste. I think that its a great book for those always wanting to read scary books, but too scared of getting too scared. Its also a good book for those writers (or readers) wanting to see how to make monsters real.
You can buy Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters HERE.
If you’ve read this book, let me know what you thought of it!