Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review: A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

by Wendy S. Swore
Shadow Mountain Press
Middle Grade Magical Realism
304 pages

There are trolls, goblins, and witches. Which kind of monster is Sophie?

Sophie is a monster expert. Thanks to her Big Book of Monstersand her vivid imagination, Sophie can identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood. Clearly, the bullies are trolls and goblins. Her nice neighbor must be a good witch, and Sophie’s new best friend is obviously a fairy. But what about Sophie? She’s convinced she is definitely a monster because of the “monster mark” on her face. At least that’s what she calls it. The doctors call it a blood tumor. Sophie tries to hide it but it covers almost half her face. And if she’s a monster on the outside, then she must be a monster on the inside, too.

Being the new kid at school is hard. Being called a monster is even harder. Sophie knows that it’s only a matter of time before the other kids, the doctors, and even her mom figure it out. And then her mom will probably leave — just like her dad did.

Because who would want to live with a real monster?

Inspired by real events in the author’s life, A Monster Like Me teaches the importance of believing in oneself, accepting change, and the power of friendship.


The very first page lures into the exciting possibility of fantasy before gliding off into a message packed reality which pulls at the heartstrings.

Monster lurk everywhere in plain sight. Disguised as humans. Sophie is one of them, and thanks to her book, she has a pretty good idea of where other ones lurk. Her mother and others think that it's only a birth mark on her face, one that gains attention everywhere they go. But she knows that monsters soon see past her mark and realize that she's a monster within. Cursed. When she finds her first friend, she finally has the chance to break the curse. And hopefully, before her mother is lured away by a new monster, who has set his eyes on her heart.

The first pages immediately grab attention. Sophie's view of the world invites with it's imagination and has the reader looking for hidden monsters themselves. But it soon becomes clear that this is about so much more. The author weaves the inner and outer problems Sophie has, thanks to her very large birthmark, masterfully into the imaginative world of monsters. But, on the same hand, it becomes clear very early in the book that these monsters aren't real, but rather, Sophie's battling monsters of her own.

While there are many wonderful moments in this book, I'm not sure it's one for the lower end of the middle grade range. The topics and issues run at a fairly deep, psychological level, one that the younger side might not totally grasp. This depth also causes slower passages, which won't necessarily hold that age group's attention. I'd recommend this one highly, however for ages twelve and up.

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