Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook

Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook
Series: Standalone
Published: April 29th, 2014
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
352 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Literary fiction/historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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On an oppressively hot Monday in August of 1966, a student and former marine named Charles Whitman hauled a footlocker of guns to the top of the University of Texas tower and began firing on pedestrians below. Before it was over, sixteen people had been killed and thirty-two wounded. It was the first mass shooting of civilians on a campus in American history.

Monday, Monday follows three students caught up in the massacre: Shelly, who leaves her math class and walks directly into the path of the bullets, and two cousins, Wyatt and Jack, who heroically rush from their classrooms to help the victims. On this searing day, a relationship begins that will eventually entangle these three young people in a forbidden love affair, an illicit pregnancy, and a vow of secrecy that will span forty years. Reunited decades after the tragedy, they will be forced to confront the event that changed their lives and that has silently and persistently ruled the lives of their children.

Monday, Monday started off with so much promise. The Charles Whitman shooting at the University of Texas was described in horrifying detail. I could imagine myself there - feel the heat coming off the pavement, hear the gunshots ringing through the mall, smell the blood. It was gruesome and terrifying, leaving me with high hopes for the rest of the book. Unfortunately, with the exception of one other horrific experience during the course of the book, the story fell flat for me.

There was very little character development in Monday, Monday. The characters were dull and one-dimensional. I think this probably had to do with the fact the book jumped around so much and we never stayed in one time period for long. The book took place over the course of forty years and jumped ahead frequently, sometimes small jumps, sometimes huge jumps. A jumble of things happened during those forty years; in the beginning, some of it was interesting, but as the book went on, I found myself thinking a lot of the story was pointless. Not only that, but there would be vivid descriptions of some things - sometimes almost too much description - and then little to no description of other things. The book had more telling than showing, and other than the two big events in the book, I couldn’t picture the things that were happening or the people they were happening to. Paired with dialogue that was often stilted and awkward, it made for a jarring read.

The ending left me completely disappointed. After reading about forty years of random series of events, I hoped the ending would redeem the story as a whole, but it was lackluster, leaving me with a feeling of ‘what did I just read?’ I realize happy endings aren’t always necessarily believable, but it would have been nice if someone in this large cast of characters had ended up happy. Instead of a feeling of hope or closure or anything positive, I just felt depressed.

Have you read Monday, Monday? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? How do you feel about books that span several decades?

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