Jeez. And I thought Sadie was a dark and bleak YA offering. In Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson, dark and bleak would look pretty good.
This book is tough to get through. But not because of the writing, which was beautiful at times. Its tough because its is painfully realistic, and real life doesn’t always have a happy ending.
After a summer away visiting her grandparents, Claudia comes back to school, excited to see her best (and really, only) friend, Monday. But Monday doesn’t show up. Claudia’s parents and teachers tell her not to worry, they’re sure Monday will eventually come to school.
But she doesn’t. And it doesn’t seem like anyone but Claudia seems all that bothered by it.
Claudia does everything she can think of to find her friend. She calls, but the number is out of service. She drops by, but Monday’s mother says she is visiting her aunt. She tracks down Monday’s older sister, who tells her that Monday is living with their dad. Something’s wrong, but Claudia can’t figure out what.
Meanwhile, Claudia has to navigate through middle school without her best friend covering for her learning disability for her anymore. She’s a nervous wreck that the other kids — who already make fun of her for something that happened last year with Monday — will go crazy when they find out she’s dyslexic. She fears the rumor mill and doesn’t think she can face it without Monday.
Claudia has a great support system. Her parents love her very much. She’s a very talented dancer, and makes a few new friends at her dance group. And she gets closer to Michael, a boy from church, who tries to help her figure out where her friend could be.
The timeline jumps around a lot. Chapters are titled “Before” or “After”, and even “Before the Before.” We get a sense of what Claudia’s life was like with Monday in it, and what things are like without Monday. As the timeline gets more and more confusing, the reader can feel that something big is coming. And it does.
I don’t want to get into spoilers here, but the last 30 pages of this book took my breath away. When ElCiccoreviewed this a few weeks ago, I told her that the end of this book was like a “gut punch”. I’m still feeling the frustrating reality of that punch, weeks later. This book got under my skin and lived there, and I know I’ll think of it for years to come.