A gay 17-year-old teenager commits suicide. And thus begins Monoceros, a novel about the aftermath of a teenager’s death in Calgary, Alberta. Patrick Furey was gay, and was bullied for it. Leading the charge was Petra, Patrick’s secret boyfriend’s actual girlfriend. Broken up by the days after the tragedy, Monoceros delves into the fallout and how a boy that not many people remember too well could affect so many lives. His suicide becomes the catalyst for change, from his newly-divorced teacher, to Faraday, a girl in his class who is obsessed with unicorns, to Walter & Max, the guidance counselor & principal who are secretly living together. Their lives are further altered when a drag queen named Crepe Suzette comes into the picture.
This book was highly recommended to me by In the midst of life, we are in debt and it did not disappoint. I don’t know what I was expecting, even though I had read the premise. It was definitely a lot darker and intensely depressing than I had expected (Although I’m not sure how I could not have anticipated a story about suicide to not be depressing). Sadness aside, Mayr tells a complex and intricate web of stories, weaving the lives of these characters within itself. Recurring characters that have touched each of their lives, yet they’re unaware of the bigger connection they have with each other. Even the breakdown of chapters, by days of the week, was so poignant to me. Each day of the week was captured, from the Monday that Patrick dies to each subsequent day for about a week until it becomes “First Monday after Patrick”, “Second Monday after Patrick”, etc. because, to these people, life cannot move on because of this tragic incident. It’s become defined by that moment, and that’s how they see their days.
Mayr really captures the confusion and sadness in these characters. I appreciated the moments where, during a grief counselling session at the school, she brings to life the “mania” and almost mob-mentality of those who never knew the deceased boy but feel the need to “fit in” with all those that are grieving by being so over-the-top with the sobbing. Although most of the characters are fairly simple in their personalities, Crepe Suzette was definitely the most dynamic and multi-dimensional. She is the one to keep your eye on throughout the story.
There is more I want to discuss, but I can’t do that without giving it away – so you’ll just have to check out the book for yourself.
Monoceros is currently available in stores.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)