Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Total Books Read in 2021: 21
Friday, April 23, 2021
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
I first came across Monday's Not Coming on a trip through the young adult section of Barnes and Noble a few years ago. I was drawn in by the striking red cover, and intrigued by the description on the back. I picked it up not realizing that I already had another Tiffany D. Jackson novel, Allegedly, sitting on my shelf at home, unread. What can I say? I guess I like the way Jackson writes summaries. I ended up reading Allegedly first, at the start of this year, and liked it well enough. I was really into the dark, gritty story for the majority of the book, but was disappointed by the twist ending that I felt undercut the novel's messaging. As I got started reading Monday's Not Coming, I was curious to see if I would feel the same about the ending in this one, or if I would have a different experience.
I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. I was very engaged while reading and I ended up finishing the story quickly because I was so interested in finding out what happened to Monday. Much like in Allegedly, Jackson touches on several social issues within the text and doesn't soften her subject matter for her young audience. The harsh realities of poverty, abuse, and systemic racism are unflinchingly explored and Claudia finds herself in some truly harrowing situations throughout the story. The novel is divided up into sections discussing the past and the present, and the flashbacks to Monday and Claudia's friendship do a nice job of giving good background details and highlighting the warning signs that showed something was wrong with Monday long before she disappeared. There were a few instances where I thought that Claudia was a little too naïve when it came to Monday's obvious distress, but I could forgive those moments in the interest of storytelling.
I thought that the novel's best theme concerned which kinds of kids tend to attract attention from adults. Monday, a young Black girl living in poverty, is allowed to slip through the cracks with alarming ease. Most people have no idea she's missing until Claudia brings it up, and even when social services and the police are alerted, no one is in a hurry to help. They are overwhelmed with other cases and are unable to make time for another kid. It is probable that a wealthier kid, a kid living in a better neighborhood, or a whiter kid wouldn't suffer the same treatment. I liked that the novel drew attention to this idea.
Much like in Allegedly, there is a twist at the end of this story. Also much like in Allegedly, I felt like the twist was unnecessary. It wasn't quite as clear as I would have wished it to be either. Once I knew what it was and thought back across the events of the book, I still couldn't piece together an accurate timeline, which is exactly what I said in my Allegedly review. What was better about the twist in Monday's Not Coming though, was that it didn't undercut the overall message of the story. So while I didn't love the ending, it wasn't actively harmful to the novel. I do wish that Jackson could resist slipping in these surprise endings - her writing is strong enough to play it straight.
Ultimately, I really did enjoy Monday's Not Coming. It was a dark, emotional, and gut-wrenching reading experience. Jackson did a nice job incorporating a lot of social issues into the story and the novel left me with a lot to think about beyond just the events of the plot. It hit me a little bit different because as a teacher, I see a lot of kids with tough home lives that end up being absent quite a bit, often for long stretches of time. It's disturbingly easy for these kind of at-risk kids to slip through the cracks and disappear. It's a sobering thought, and I appreciate Jackson bringing some attention to this issue through her story. This probably isn't a novel that I would choose to reread, so I'm going to add it to my donate stack and let someone else discover it. I do think it was a worthwhile and engaging read though. I preferred it to Allegedly and I'm glad I gave it a shot.