Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Thriller, Contemporary
Published: May 22, 2018 by: Katherine Tegen Books
Rating: 4/5 stars
CW: child abuse, murder, PTSD, racism
Claudia and her best friend Monday have always been inseparable, willing to tell one another anything. Until one day, when Monday doesn't show up for school. Claudia knows that it is unlike Monday to leave her best friend without telling her where she went, so she begins to try to put the pieces together as to where Monday is. The problem is, nobody but Claudia seems to be taking Monday's disappearance seriously. The police have no interest in a missing Black child, and Monday's family react defensively to Claudia's questions. All Claudia has are possible clues that Monday has left behind for her, and she is determined to find out where her friend is.
This book was really quite something. It was shocking and disturbing, while still offering important social commentary on the epidemic of missing Black children and the systemic barriers put in place by the very people who are supposed to protect Black communities. While I did have some trouble with the format of this book, I still overall thought it to be a jarring read that really impacted me.
Claudia is a fascinating character, and I enjoyed how Jackson wrote and developed both her and Monday. The two come from different economic backgrounds, with Claudia's parents both having stable jobs and high expectations for their daughter, while Monday comes from an abusive household and doesn't really get attention from her mother. Claudia's parents are reluctant to helping their daughter because of their judgements of Monday's background, and I thought these details were needed, because I could imagine such a conversation happening in real life. So often, different communities are labelled as "the bad communities." Parents from middle-class backgrounds are reluctant in having their children associate in these communities. However, this book explored what happens when these stereotyped communities are ignored. It results in children going missing, and parents turning a blind eye. While this story was frustrating in the sense that nobody but Claudia took Monday's disappearance seriously, I thought the reaction from the middle-class people in the story was sadly accurate to a situation that could happen in real life, and Jackson did a great job at showing the consequences that come out of these situations.
I really liked how this book explored Monday's character even if she was not always present in it. There are flashbacks to Monday, but a lot of Monday's story is told by Claudia and by Monday's own family. I learnt a lot about Monday just by reading about what other people said about her, and this made me want to root for her to come back even more. I ended up reading this book rather quickly, because I wanted to know what had happened to this girl and if she was safe. I ended up rooting for a character who we don't get to see that much in the story, which made the reading more emotional.
I will say that the main issue I had with the book is the way it is structured. The book follows Monday and Claudia growing up, but also moves forward to the present after Monday has disappeared. The result is that a lot of the chapters use years to explain what timeline we're in, however this made the reading confusing. One chapter could be: "two years before Monday's disappearance," then it goes back into the present, then it goes three years back, and continues. I found it hard to situate myself within a certain timeline and often I just ended up confused as to what time I was in. I would have liked for the book to stay more consistent with one moment in the present, and one moment in the past, in order to be more focused.
This book is labelled as a thriller, but it is so much more than a mystery in which one is disconnected from the characters. I feel like thrillers are often there to keep the reader entertained, but I wouldn't say that I was entertained in a positive sense by the book. I was certainly concerned, and very disturbed, and I think Jackson did a great job at reinventing the thriller genre so that it still has aspects of a crime that needs to be solved, while still rooting itself within a particular social issue that isn't supposed to be comfortable. Overall, I would recommend this book for folks who can handle its heavy subject matter (see content warnings), because I think it is an important book.
Have you read Monday's Not Coming? What did you think?
Emily @ Paperback Princess