Thursday 5 April 2018

Monsters - Raphaela Weissman

Every evening, Annie and Paul Mayfield and their son Thomas sit together in the seething silence of their Brooklyn apartment, still haunted by the memory of the attack on the Twin Towers a year earlier. The nights are plagued by Thomas's vivid nightmares, Annie's unexplained sleepwalking, and Paul's growing paranoia as he fears the implications of their disquiet. 

At eight years old, Thomas is eerily serious, and oddly precocious. He also lives in fear- of his parents' unexplained behavior, the monsters he imagines hiding everywhere, and the uncertain world he inhabits in his own room. 

Monsters is a relentless portrait of a family on the brink of chaos, as they struggle to care for each other under the weight of fear.

What did I think?

I don't like to remember that awful day back in September 2001 but at the same time, I don't think we should forget it either.  Monsters refers to 9/11 but isn't about that day, rather about the effects of it on the people who have those flaming towers burned onto their retinas.

Thomas has nightmares about being in a plane crash and you don't need to be a psychologist to understand what event sowed the seeds for that nightmare.  His parents are barely functioning, certainly not with each other, in fact Thomas thinks they turn into monsters when his back is turned.  It is clear that Annie and Paul do love their son but their marriage is so fractured that it feels doomed to failure.

It's really interesting to see how the family interact with each other, especially in the wake of Annie's sleepwalking.  Paul hasn't just fallen out of love with his wife, he has become afraid of what she might do whilst in a fugue state.  Instead of helping Annie, Paul distances himself from her and daydreams about another woman filling her shoes.  Annie feels this distance between herself and Paul and easily transfers her feelings on to other men.  All the time, I was screaming: 'What about Thomas?'  They are so selfish, thinking about themselves instead of helping their son, it got me so mad.

Monsters is a bit of a slow-burner; I thought nothing much was happening but then I would suddenly experience an outpouring of emotion as feelings of anger/despair/concern/frustration burst out of me.  I think Monsters is a brilliant study of a fractured family who struggle to show any kind of emotion around each other, although I certainly felt a wealth of emotions whilst reading it.

An emotional piece of literary fiction, Monsters is such a compelling read that once started you will find hard to put down.

I read Monsters in instalments via The Pigeonhole and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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