Elizabeth Crook’s new novel Monday, Monday follows the life of University of Texas shooting victim Shelley Maddox, along with the lives of the men that saved her life that August day on the UT mall as they move on in life attempting to leave behind the tragedies that occurred. Crook’s premise of the book, which is nonetheless intriguing, answers the question of what happens to victims of school shootings once the shooting is over? Does the shooting shape and frame the rest of their lives, or are they able to over come it eventually? Crook effectively answers these questions through the point of view of her characters.
Crook wastes no time with getting the novel started. The reader is almost instantly thrown in to the tragedy of August 1, 1966 as Crook explicitly details one of the first mass shootings in U.S. history where Charles Whitman kills 16 students and civilians and wounds many others. The protagonist Shelley Maddox pulls the reader into the chaos with her, along with two cousins who save her, Wyatt Calvert and Jack Stone, as she is one of the many wounded. The first four chapters of the book surely leave the reader speechless, as they are so realistic it is almost like the reader was there, living through the horror with the UT victims.
The plot focuses on what happens after the shooting, as Shelley and Wyatt are drawn to each other, and end up in a deep, deep love affair that not only changes their lives, but the lives of everyone directly related to them and eventually the lives of people who are brought in to the world years after the shooting.
Monday, Monday is collaboratively narrated, which allows the reader to read from the point of view of all the main characters, all of whom face their own tragedies at some point. Through this collaboration the reader is sworn to secrecy from other characters, and carries information with them that is kept hidden from some of the characters up until the remaining few chapters of the novel. With many secrets kept, Crook gets the readers to wonder whether revealing them or keeping them would be more beneficial. The readers question is answered eventually in a surprising, and brilliant, plot twist that is sure to catch the reader off guard. The reader learns, along with the characters, whether the saying “the truth will set you free” is accurate or not.
Memory is an important theme throughout the novel. Crook does an excellent job at showing how memory works, especially in the lives of victims as they are shaped around important events, and everything else in-between is just time. One could argue that Crook speeds time up too quickly and trivializes a tragic event by turning it into a soap opera. However, Crook has a firm grasp on understanding victims and how their lives are no longer the same as they once were before.
Although Wyatt views Shelley as being nothing short of perfect, Shelley has a hard time accepting who she becomes after the shooting. Just like Shelley, this novel is not quite perfect, but through the losses of the characters, it is just right as it engages the reader through a terrifying event in history, and its aftermath. Monday, Monday is just one of many intense, but enjoyable novels that are based around a real-life crisis that happens more often than we realize. If searching for a heavy novel to read, Monday, Monday is certainly the novel to add to your “To Read” list as it contains deep and realistic content that is sure to satisfy a hungry reader looking for a new book.
Today’s post comes from Shana Snyder, a senior at The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Secondary Education English, who will be graduating in May 2015 with a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education English. She is striving to become a tenth grade English teacher. She loves reading and hopes her review will inspire others to pick up a new book to read.
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