Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D. Jackson; narrated by Imani Parks
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?
Back in 2017 I read Tiffany D. Jackson’s debut, Allegedly, and immediately knew Jackson was a thriller author I’d be keeping my eye on. When I realised the audiobook of her second novel was available to borrow from the library, I snapped it up.
In Monday’s Not Coming, we follow Claudia Coleman as she enters 8th grade—her last year at school before she starts high school. She’s been away at her grandmother’s all summer and, strangely, hasn’t heard from her best friend, Monday Charles, at all. Monday doesn’t show at school either and, when it becomes clear that her family are hiding something and none of the adults around her will help her, Claudia is determined to find out what’s happened to her friend.
This story is a gut punch. It made me ache and it made me cry, and I so appreciate how unflinchingly Jackson sheds light on the signs people will ignore when someone is crying for help. There are so many times Monday could have been helped, and yet wasn’t, and there are so many times when people could have listened to Claudia, but didn’t.
The power of this novel is its ability to make its readers so frustrated. We’re frustrated each time we’re almost told why Monday’s not coming, only to be interrupted, and we’re frustrated each time someone dismisses Claudia’s concerns and tries to reassure her that Monday’s probably fine. How many times have people been left to suffer in silence because everyone around them thought they were probably fine?
Is this a perfect book? No. It jumps between ‘before’ and ‘after’, which I won’t go into for the sake of spoilers, and I think those jumps could be a little confusing. Eventually, though, I stopped thinking about it too much and let myself just listen to the story, and soon enough it was easy to piece things together. I also wasn’t entirely sure how believable a certain element of the plot was, which is revealed quite close to the end. Ultimately I didn’t mind that, though. The book’s weaknesses don’t take anything away from the fact that this is one of the most harrowing YA novels I’ve ever read, and certainly one that will stay with me.
I’ve seen quite a few reviews from readers who didn’t enjoy this book and loved Jackson’s debut, Allegedly, a lot more but, even though I gave them both 4 stars, this book is much more powerful than Allegedly for me. One thing I’m always longing for is more YA novels about friendship and this novel is certainly that. Claudia’s unrelenting search for Monday is the driving force behind this story.
Their friendship has its ups and downs, as any relationship of any kind does, and there are moments where I wondered if the two of them were a little too co-dependent. Then again, Monday’s Not Coming took me right back to how powerful those close friendships you have at 13 and 14 are, when going a few days without seeing your best friend seems like a lifetime and you can’t possibly imagine yourself ever not wanting to be near them. These two are soulmates, more sisters than friends, and their story is going to haunt me for a long time.