Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Monday

by Elizabeth Crook
Farrar, Straus and Giroux  2014
340 pages     Fiction
The Shortlist

One of the women with whom I spent a weekend retreat this past week discussed how she is continually haunted with memories of her childhood in Germany during the final years of World War II, and how she is unable to view life except through the lens of the war. 

For many of us, there are defining moments when our lives change forever—for good or ill—and, like my friend, we view the rest of our lives through the lens of that experience. For the characters in the book Monday, Monday by Elizabeth Crook, the event that shaped the rest of their lives was the August 1, 1966 shooting at the University of Texas. The book begins with the first shots ringing out from the bell tower and it ends 40 years later when one of the victims, Shelly, is able to go up into the
tower and look down to the place where she lay after being shot and see how the trajectory of her life came from that moment.

There have been far too many mass shootings, and the shooting that fateful day in Austin Texas seems to have been the first. It is an intriguing and appropriate place to begin a novel about the life effects of trauma. Like most sagas, Monday Monday is the story of the twists and turns in the lives of three characters who were there at that day. The story is fascinating, the characters are well drawn, and the plot line is plausible. Even more, the book begins with tragedy, but ends with hope.

The reviewer in the Book Page review says: "... what makes this book so compelling is the open and tender way each character is honestly but lovingly portrayed. Monday, Monday is a wonderful book that will make you cry, but also uplift you."

In an interview, Crook says that she had begun a far different novel, but an article about the shooter, Charles Whitman, in the Texas Monthly changed her perspective, and the mother in the novel she was writing suddenly became the character, Shelly, crossing the mall at the University of Texas on a sunny summer afternoon. The entire focus of her book changed in that instant. She said that the value of what she was writing became all the more important with the escalation of school shootings in recent years. It is a valuable and insightful book,well worth reading.

The review and interview in The Rivard Report:
Elizabeth Crook's website:

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