I feel kind of torn about how to rate and review this one. Did I like it? Sure. Was it a favorite? No. For about the first 3/4 of the book, I was a little bored, even though the writing was good. I felt like I knew where we were going with the story and I was just waiting for the hurt to come. The last 1/4 of the book, I cried. If you're a person who has experienced the death of someone you love and you read this story, there's a good chance you're going to cry too. Even if you haven't, it's still highly likely that this book will cause a couple of tears to flow. Loss is a universal human experience that we can all relate to and it's made worse when it happens to someone so young.
So, yes, there are these types of books that tackle heavy common issues. And, yes, the experiences will connect to certain emotional responses. It doesn't matter if the book is ground-breaking or not, if told well, the response that the author is trying to draw is going to happen. This is the case with this book, I felt like it was a set up that was meant to bring about the pain and feelings of loss that most of us have felt sometime in our lives, but that didn't make it a great book. It was really just okay for me.
I felt kind of lost with the whole monster tree thing and what kind of metaphors each of the stories were supposed to represent. I felt like more backstory on Connor and his mom dealing with the cancer would have been helpful to understand the whole "letting go" aspect of the bad dream. I didn't understand why Harry decided to single Connor out for bullying.
I did really love the way the relationship between Connor and his grandma was portrayed. I think I cried the hardest at the end when he and her and riding in the car back to the hospital together. Seeing them realize that they'll have to try and figure each other out and make it work together was nice. It left me hopeful for the future. Overall, I'd give this one 3.5 stars. It isn't a bad book, by any means, just a little disappointing for me. This doesn't mean that I wouldn't recommend it. I def would.