ISBN #: 978-0374228828
Page Count: 352
Copyright: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
(Taken from Amazon)
In this gripping, emotionally charged novel, a tragedy in Texas changes the course of three lives.
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.
With electrifying storytelling and the powerful sense of destiny found in Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and with the epic sweep of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, Elizabeth Crook’s Monday, Monday explores the ways in which we sustain ourselves and one another when the unthinkable happens. At its core, it is the story of a woman determined to make peace with herself, with the people she loves, and with a history that will not let her go. A humane treatment of a national tragedy, it marks a generous and thrilling new direction for a gifted American writer.
My review of this book was supposed to have posted on release day, April 29th, (apologies to the publicist) but it's taken me this long to decide what I want to say ... and I'm still not sure I have it all straight in my head. So, I'll just pick a point to start and go from there.
I liked the fact that the author chose an actual event from history and integrated some fictional people into it in order to begin her novel. Shelly is a student heading across the lawn when she's shot down by Charles. As she struggles to play dead, yet find cover, Wyatt and Jack venture out to help those that can be saved, putting their lives at risk. Jack is permanently damaged by one of the shooter's bullets. Wyatt escapes the bullets, but he's still permanently affected by the shootings. As he holds Shelly to try and stop the bleeding, Wyatt forms a bond with her that lasts a lifetime.
Over the years, Wyatt and Shelly become friends and eventually lovers. In a time when divorce was frowned upon, Wyatt feels as if he cannot divorce his wife, Elaine, to be with Shelly. Then, when Shelly becomes pregnant, Wyatt is in more torment for he wants to leave Elaine and be with Shelly but doesn't want to leave his son without a father. Shelly forces him to go and she finally decides to give the baby up for adoption ... to Jack and his wife, Delia.
As Shelly's baby grows up, Shelly wonders how she's doing and if she'll ever see her again. Then, by the universe's great design, Jack and Delia just happen to walk into Shelly's workplace with Carlotta in tow. Shelly can't believe her good luck and from that point forward, the four of them form a bond and Shelly becomes part of the family.
Eventually, though, what's done in the dark must be brought to light and the same holds true with Carlotta's birth. It takes about 40 years for the truth to come out. Carlotta handles it well, but Shelly's daughter, Madeline takes the news poorly. Honestly, I believe that Madeline was a bit selfish and childish in how she reacted to the news that her mom had another daughter. Shelly made sure that Madeline grew up playing with Carlotta, but eventually Madeline became jealous of the time that Shelly spent with Carlotta. Then, to find out, Carlotta was actually Shelly's daughter ... well ... can we say drama queen?
This novel does have a weight and heaviness to it, but it's not so oppressing that it'll leave you depressed. I rather enjoyed it and wished for a different ending for Wyatt and Shelly. Looking back over the story, though, I can understand why it was written as it was. My recommendation for this novel would lean more towards those who enjoy reading literature or those who enjoy a more serious story now and then.
*A physical ARC was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest (although late) review.