A Week of Mondays | Jessica Brody

Elke dag maandag | A Week of Mondays
Jessica Brody
Blossom Books (9789020679281) – Dutch ARC

4 star

I read this book in Dutch, which I don’t do often. I got a copy from the publisher (Blossom Books) via my job as a buyer for the bookstore that I’m the assistant manager of.Jessica Brody’s A Week of Mondays was translated by Lisette Jonkman, who is a writer herself and whom I’ve met when she gave a workshop in creative writing at our bookstore. I really enjoyed meeting her and have been following her on social media. She is a very funny person, and I was very curious to see how that would manifest itself in her translation of A Week of Mondays.

I was not disappointed. I really liked the book. From character to plot: very well done. The only major hangup I have is that the ending is predictable in the extreme. But I don’t care, to be honest. These stories are literally all about the journey. So what if you know what’s going to happen from the first Monday in? You don’t know what Ellie is going to do in the meantime, and how she will deal with the repetition. And you will certainly enjoy that, especially if you are a fan of this (Groundhog Day will always be one of the best movies in existence). Ellie Sparks has a flair for the dramatic, even though she starts off by saying she is no dramaqueen. I admit I would have found it interesting if the book had gone in a completely different direction, but let’s be honest – we don’t expect or want that from books like these.

You read it because you want to be entertained by the journey Ellie is put through. You read it because it makes you philosophical about the chance of repeating certain days. What if it would happen to you, which would you spend a week setting straight? What is it in your life right now that you aren’t seeing, which you should? I certainly love these kinds of stories, making me reflect on my own life and entertaining me while I do it. Jessica Brody has a flair for writing fun characters and witty dialiogue without weighing down the story with either to much frivolity or seriousness. I’ve laughed out loud at A Week of Mondays, and I was thoroughly enjoying how Ellie’s mood, purpose AND clothes were so different throughout each of her Mondays.

I am also a big fan of Jessica Brody rounding out all her characters. Daphne is only a minor character and although she is a jealous wannabe, I sincerely believe she did not know about the banana bread. I like how you can get a full sense of a minimal character. And I also loved the subtlety of Ellie’s (perceived) relationship with Tristan. He’s not a bad guy, and not a bad person to be in a relationship with, if you are both clear on what you want and who you are. At the start of this book, you don’t know Ellie well enough to know she behaves differently around him. Owen only tells her a few Mondays in, during which she and we are realising that. There is an unfolding of details that is gradual and well done. It makes sure the story never gets boring, and enriches everything about this book and its characters.

Speaking of boring, Ellies different reactions to her Mondays is brilliant. She is never repetitive, and tackles each day with a new outlook. During the second Monday I laughed at her trying to grasp what was going on, being glad to know there was going to be another Monday to set this one right. Because it was a trainwreck, and it was hilarious. The third Monday in which you begin to see how she is conforming her sense of self to what she thinks Tristan wants her to be, and you start thinking… uh-oh. The Monday where she is so depressed about the repetitions that she can’t get out of bed. It was so relatable. And I immensely enjoyed when she went all psycho and just did whatever the hell she wanted.

It’s a good lesson for all of us. You see her move through the Mondays and you know you would probably do things the same way she is doing them. But because you are on the outside reading in, you observe how far she moves away from herself in order to make that happen. And when she finally gives up and throws caution to the wind, I think we all realise we have to follow that example. Not in Ellie’s extreme, but we tend to hold on to who we think we are just a little too tightly sometimes. We like to box ourselves and others in, but we are not made to fit into niches and stay there forever. We’re complex human beings. I love how a fun book like this teaches us valuable lessons still. Ellie Sparks for president!

I like how Jessica Brody shows us characters from Ellie’s perspective, which means that our perception of them changes when Ellie encounters more information both about them and herself. Even Tristan’s seemingly generic break up excuse has a reason behind it. I first thought something had happened, but Ellie figured it out more quickly than me: it’s not her, it’s him. It REALLY is. He does it because he has his own hang-ups, and they are influenced by himself, not by something she or someone else does. It’s also not made into a big deal, just part of Ellie’s development: it is one of the Mondays everyone but Ellie will forget.

The way she stands in relation to the other characters is subtle and beautiful. Her slow way of puzzling together what Owen is saying – not just about her, but about him as well. Getting to the bottom of what happened to her sister (who also had a crap Monday). Being honest with her father about being someone who she’s not to make him happy. Her overcoming her tight hold on her life made her see that who you are – if you really enjoy being who you are – is all you need.

I think that is what A Week of Mondays is all about. And it makes one very important statement that I myself only realised after years of falling down and getting up: a seemingly good or even perfect life means absolutely nothing when you are not happy in it. See, I don’t care how predictable the ending is, this book is making me philosophical about the journey! And that’s what you need from the books you read. Also, I found it hilarious. Ellie Sparks is an amazing person, and just like Owen and Tristan, you will see that.

And that episode of Assumed Guilty sounded freaking awesome.

 

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