It was a hot Monday in August 1966, with students finishing up summer school classes for the day. Some had already headed out of the buildings, while others lingered. One young girl named Shelly Maddox was thinking about her future, about errands to complete, and about the imaginary numbers the math professor had just been describing. As she started out, she heard someone’s transistor radio playing the Mamas and Papas song: “Monday, Monday….”
Finally, out on the plaza, as she started forward, she saw a young man raise a hand, as if to wave, and then he fell. She then felt something and grabbed her arm just before falling.
Soon chaos reigned as disaster unfolded. Someone was shooting from the Tower on the University of Texas campus, and before the day was over, 16 would be dead and more than 30 injured, and the shooter, a student named Charles Whitman, would also be dead.
Shelly survived, with a ruined arm and breast, but one of her rescuers that day was a young man named Wyatt Calvert, an artist, and someone who would become a significant part of her life.
Monday, Monday: A Novel is based on true events, and as the story unfolds over the years, we see how lives are forever changed from these events. Shelly Maddox, Wyatt Calvert, and Jack Stone, Wyatt’s cousin, would all be irrevocably changed and connected.
Themes of heroism, sacrifice, and forgiveness mix with circumstances that suggest fate or coincidence bringing certain people and events into each other’s paths over and over again. Like a circle of destiny.
To avoid spoilers, I won’t say more about how the story unfolds, but it moves through several decades, and while reading it, I could not help but feel as though events were being directed by unseen forces…or some kind of destiny. I loved the ending and the feeling of things coming to pass just as they should.
Some parts of the story were less satisfactory for me in that the author hurried us through some time periods by “telling” us of events, historically. I had more enjoyment from the moments she showed us close up. But I was thoroughly engaged throughout, enjoying the characters, and even one special painting that seemed to symbolize the love between two characters. It almost felt like a character, too. Definitely recommended for those who love stories about events that change lives, and about how people move on from tragedy. 4.0 stars.