Sunday, May 4, 2014

Book Review: "Monday, Monday" by Elizabeth Crook

Life can change in a split second, and one's actions can have ramifications that ripple for years to come.

One August day in 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a clock tower at the University of Texas in Austin and began shooting at random people. He killed 16 people and wounded more than 30 others that day, striking fear into a quiet summer day on campus, and changing the lives of numerous people.

Shelly was one of the people shot by Whitman that day, as she was leaving one of her summer classes. She was lying in the middle of campus, wounded and bleeding, fearing that she would die, when she was rescued by two fellow students, no-nonsense Vietnam vet Jack Stone, and his art student cousin Wyatt Calvert. The split-second decision to rescue Shelly has tremendous ramifications for both young men, and it sets into motion a number of things—a secret affair, an unexpected pregnancy, and a life-changing decision—actions that link the three of them together for years to come. And then many years later, the three are brought together again, forced to confront the decisions they made and the secrets they and some of their loved ones have kept.

Monday, Monday is a moving story of the consequences of our decisions, some made in a split second, some made with significantly more consideration. It's a story about how love endures, even through time and distance, yet the shape of that love may change. It's the story of how tragedy can both wound and unite, and it's also the story of the myriad ways in which secrets can touch so many people in so many different ways.

Elizabeth Crook did a great job laying out this story and the ripple effects of both Whitman's shooting spree and the decisions the main characters made in its aftermath. She's a tremendously talented storyteller, because while so much of the plot seems inevitable and familiar, you feel truly engrossed in the characters' lives, so you want to keep reading even as you're fairly certain how the plot will proceed. At times it's a little more melodramatic than it needs to be, but Crook's ability to convey emotions and created layered characters keeps the book from being overly maudlin and sustains your interest.

I thought this was a really well-written, emotional book. Definitely worth a read.

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