Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson, was published in 2018.
The first sentence is: “This is the story of how my best friend disappeared.”
It’s the summer before eighth grade. Claudia Coleman (the narrator of the story) flies home to Washington, DC, after spending two months with Grandmamma, in Georgia. Grandmamma doesn’t approve of kids playing on the phone, so Claudia and her best friend Monday would typically exchange postcards and letters. This summer, however, Monday never responded to any of Claudia’s letters. Claudia is worried.
Ma doesn’t seem to share Claudia’s concern. Monday probably got involved in something, she tells Claudia, and just couldn’t get over to the Post Office.
As soon as they get home from the airport, Claudia runs to the phone by the stairs and calls Monday. (Claudia isn’t allowed to have a cell phone until high school.) Monday’s phone isn’t working.
School starts the next day. Monday isn’t there. The truth is, Monday isn’t just Claudia’s best friend – she’s Claudia’s only friend. Claudia has never walked into school alone. Ma says that Monday will probably be along shortly.
There are no empty chairs in homeroom. The name Monday Charles isn’t called during roll call. Monday has disappeared, and no one seems to care except Claudia.
That’s basically the plot of this 430-page book: Monday Charles is missing, and Claudia Coleman, with limited resources, tries to find out what happened. (Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that.)
Claudia has never been to Monday’s house – she’s always been forbidden to go there, both by her parents and by Monday – so she doesn’t want to simply knock on the door. She seeks her teachers’ help, but, since Monday didn’t enroll this year, they are limited in what they can do. She’s cautious about asking the other kids at school – she doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact that she has no friends.
Claudia Coleman begins a quest that brings her into some dark territory, full of twists and turns. There’s one twist so amazing and unexpected that it makes me want to go back and re-read the entire novel from the beginning, paying closer attention to chapter titles.
Monday’s Not Coming switches time lines frequently, as Claudia remembers their friendship, hoping to find clues that may tell her where Monday went – or what happened to her. Truths begin to emerge: Truths about Monday Charles and her family, and truths about the friendship of Monday and Claudia.
The book immersed me in the world of a black teenage girl in the Washington, DC community. It introduced me to slang I’d never heard before. It introduced me to go-go music. It felt very believable.
Monday’s Not Coming is a Young Adult novel with strong language and subject matter.
I absolutely loved this book, and I highly recommend it. I picked this book up from the library on my way home from work on a Wednesday and, reading it for a couple of hours in the evenings, finished it on Saturday night.
Why I chose this book:
I saw this book on a library list of new books by authors of color. With the title Monday’s Not Coming referring to a character named Monday, I felt iffy about the quality of this novel. (I’m sorry, but I really don’t like the title.) Bit it also sounded like an intriguing mystery. I decided to take a chance and put it on hold. The book was on order and I was one of the first library patrons in line.
It became a book in search of a category. I eventually decided that the disappearance of a friend could count as grief and, depending on how it turned out, could also be about death.