For my “realistic fiction” selection for my grad class on YA literature, I picked up an ARC I’d been starring at for awhile: Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson. I read her last book, Allegedly, and was really intrigued by how dark it was, how well-written, and the issues it was grappling with. Monday’s Not Coming lives up to that expectation.
Monday’s Not Coming has a younger protagonist, Claudia, and a kind of convoluted timeline. There’s BEFORE and there’s AFTER. Monday is missing, maybe. Claudia returns from a summer with her grandmother and discovers that her best friend Monday isn’t there on the first day of 8th grade. This poses a lot of problems for Claudia, who doesn’t have a lot of friends and also has some learning issues. As the months progress, she remembers her friendship with Monday and wonders where she is. Monday’s family has lots of excuses: she’s sick, she’s at her Dad’s, she’s at her aunts. Soon, Claudia’s own life is getting more complicated. She’s got new friends on her dance team and a boy from church who has been coming around more, but she just can’t get anyone to listen to her about Monday. Where is the 8th grader who was great at doing hair and loved to read? Why won’t anyone listen to Claudia about her concerns?
There’s a twist at the end, a way for Jackson to make clear the timeline throughout, which I appreciated as a way to be creative in the writing process and give us a way to live in the moment and get every side of the issue, but I also kind of hate that kind of cop out, if that makes sense.I still really enjoyed the book, but I thought that was kind of a dampener on the end. The timeline isn’t TOO confusing throughout, because it’s usually delineated by whether Monday is there or not, which is easy to remember.
This book deals with some really heavy issues but with a great narrative voice and really compelling characters. I really loved Claudia and her parents and thought all the characters were fleshed out. I chose this book as my “realistic fiction” book because it’s set in DC and I live in DC. I’ve never been to Anacostia, where Claudia and Monday live, but there are several mentions of places in Gallery Place-Chinatown I have been to. It helped me feel rooted and connected to this book which was very timely because of the previous news stories over missing girls in DC.
This book does get dark. There’s violence and mentions of sex and abuse and all that jazz, but it’s all to the service of the story and relevant and very well done. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to see what Jackson does next!