Book Review: Monday’s Not Coming

Title: Monday’s Not Coming
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Review Copy: Won ARC from author
Availability: Available Now

Summary: Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Review: Oh boy this book! I knew I would get a loving story of friendship and of heartbreak as Claudia searched for her best friend, Monday. What I didn’t expect was the fantastic twist that I absolutely did not see coming. What is interesting is I was slightly confused by bits of the novel and I thought it was because I was reading too fast, but then then twist happened and everything made so much sense. I actually flipped back to a few chapters where I went “huh?” and then realized I was actually seeing the foreshadow breadcrumbs that Jackson was dropping but I had missed them. I love being completely surprised by books and Monday’s Not Coming definitely was a novel that exceeded my expectations and kept me on my toes throughout the story.

Monday’s Not Coming is told in non-linear fashion with flashbacks that show the close relationship of Claudia & Monday as they navigated their first two years of middle school. Claudia is an only child so Monday is a like a sister to her, while Monday’s home life is far from perfect and her time with Claudia, with Claudia’s family, is a refuge for her. The two girls are very dependent on each other, especially Claudia who relies on Monday to help her navigate schoolwork because she has a learning disability. This characterization of Claudia I found to be extremely moving and true to life as I’ve had students who learned how to navigate school by hiding their disability because they were afraid of what people would think of them. This dependency that Claudia had with Monday to help her is what drove Claudia to search for her friend so diligently, which is another part of the narrative. Those sections focus on Claudia’s 8th grade year as her life falls apart without her friend. Claudia and Monday were bullied at school and Claudia does her best to try to survive on her own but ultimately fails. My heart broke for both Claudia and Monday as it was clear that so many adults in their lives were failing them, with Claudia practically shouting to everyone that something was wrong with Monday and no one believed her, with the exception of her parents. Another aspect of this novel was the relationship Claudia had with her parents, and the relationship her parents had with each other. Claudia had a close relationship with both of her parents and while she did keep secrets from them (what teenager doesn’t) she had their support in her search for Monday, and I felt this crucial relationship is what gave Claudia her courage to keep fighting until she got answers. Claudia is the heart of this novel as she is one who loves fiercely and fights for them, but also is trying to find out who she is as her other half, her soul sister, is no longer in her life. I really connected to her and when that twist I mentioned earlier arrived, it was a punch to the gut. And it was because of the deep relationships that Jackson had created that made the twist so effective and moving.

Jackson told a compelling story about relationships within a mystery that had me turning the pages wanting to see what Claudia would learn next, whom she would interact with and how that interaction would change her, but also help her find her friend. This novel had so many layers to it that I’ve only really scratched at the surface because I don’t want to give away the breadcrumbs that lead to the shocking yet touching ending. This is a novel that makes you pay attention and keeps you guessing, while also making you think about the deeper issues (the school system, Child Welfare services, police, etc) and how those institutions often fail children of color. Jackson wrote a touching novel that everyone should read.