Gateway nominee sheds light on neglect, racism

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson centers around a girl named Claudia preparing to start high school with her best friend, Monday. The summer before eighth grade, Claudia leaves for her grandmother’s house with enough money saved up for her and Monday to write to each other for the duration of her trip. But she never hears from Monday, and when she returns home to Washington, D.C., she’s nowhere to be found.

When Claudia is the only one who seems to notice or care that Monday is gone, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She knows that Monday would never leave her behind without a word, especially when she’s depending on her to help her get through the eighth grade and get accepted into her dream high school. 

The beginning is promising, with a strong first line and good premise. “This is the story of how my best friend disappeared,” Jackson writes in Claudia’s voice. “How nobody noticed she was gone except me. And how nobody cared until they found her…one year later.” The end is also great, with a wild, if somewhat confusing, plot twist. The main issue that I had with Monday’s Not Coming, however, is the middle. 

The book has a very confusing timeline. It alternates between chapters labeled “Before,” “After,” “1 Year Before the Before” and many other combinations. It is very difficult to keep in mind what part of the story is being read at the moment because it jumps around so much. Nonetheless, once the storyline comes together in the end, it becomes a bit more understandable. While I would have preferred that the chapters be in a more chronological order, I can understand why the author chose to write it in this way. 

All in all, I would recommend Monday’s Not Coming to anyone with an interest in learning about social issues. The book touches on several sensitive topics, such as child neglect, racial discrimination and grief. Although it does have its faults, I believe that they are outweighed by the educational values of the book.