the best friends you’ll never have

Before we start discussing Missing Since Monday, I’d like to direct your attention to someone’s school project. They made a film version of the book. If you don’t feel like reading it, you can just watch this.

Missing Since Monday, as you may have guessed, is a book about what happens when a child goes missing. It came out in 1986. This movie starring Pam Grier was apparently based on it. (I would be interested in the thoughts of anyone who has both seen this movie and read the book.) I am not sure how to handle this post, since it is a mystery, basically, and I would feel bad about spoiling it, even though my general policy would be that once something has been out for twenty or thirty years, “spoiling” isn’t really a thing. I do think, however, that going through the plot is perhaps not the most interesting way to discuss this book, and I’d rather talk about the things that bugged me. This is basically just going to be compilation of random thoughts.

Okay, so sixteen-year-old Maggie and seventeen-year-old Mike are left in charge of their four-year-old sister, Courtie, while their father and stepmother go on their long-delayed honeymoon. Things go well until Courtie doesn’t come home from school one day, and they find out that she went missing.

First, Courtenay goes missing when she is snatched in between getting off the van at preschool (and I’m sorry, a bunch of three- and four-year-olds in a van without car seats? VERY DANGEROUS. I am only four years older than Courtie would have been, and we had booster seats in the car until at least kindergarten) and making it into her classroom. At the end of the book, the preschool says that they will now have the teachers supervise pick up and drop off. What the fuck. Why weren’t they ALREADY doing that?

Second, once again, everyone in this book, like in most Ann books, is loaded, but insists they’re not real, live millionaires. When the detectives bring up kidnapping-for-money, Maggie’s dad says that they’re not rich. Nope, they’re not rich at all. He is just the publisher of the “hardcover children’s book division” of a major publishing house who just got off the PRIVATE PLANE from his St. Bart’s honeymoon that was cut short. Also, when the police suggest a reward, the dad immediately goes, “$25,000,” which is around $50,000 dollars in today’s money, so basically, more than the median income for a family of four.

At least Ann finally set a book in Princeton. I am sure that the properitors of PJ’s Pancake House are super glad that the Creepy Guy is a busboy at their establishment. The places in this book are all real, I think, and it includes familiar names like Rosedale Road and Mr. Fiske. Yay, Ann.

The Creepy Guy is Brad, who is more or less David from Dazed and Confused. Only creepier.
He spies on Maggie and calls her “Baby” and makes obscene phone calls to her house. He also is creepy around Courtie, and ugh, eww. He is older brother of some of Maggie and Mike’s friends, and I understand that he was in the book to be there as a potential suspect, but he is just so gross. Oh, and Maggie doesn’t bother to tell anyone about these creepy calls until way late in the game, even after HER SISTER GOES MISSING. Very reminiscent of the BSC not bothering to tell their parents when completely panic-inducing things happen to them.

This is really random, but it stuck out to me. Maggie mentions that Leigh, her stepmother, who is an illustrator, has a studio in their house that is in what used to be “the sewing room.” Now, I understand that Ann would totally have a sewing room. Mrs. Towne, I can buy it. Future Mary Anne? Sure. But why do sewing rooms seem to be such a common room to have in books by Ann? The Arnolds had one until Marilyn turned it into her bedroom. And now these people have one, but WHY. Was there ever a time when a sewing room was a common use for a extra bedroom after the advent of mass-produced fashion? Hell, I think that even back when people bought fabric and made clothes for their families more often than not, I think only the very wealthy would be able to dedicate a whole room to it, and then those people would probably buy their clothes in town anyway. I don’t think that big shot publisher dad, nor the OG Mom who lost custody were doing much sewing.

Another thing that bothered me about the book, one that I think is going to be familiar to BSC readers, is that the conflict between Maggie and her stepmother centers around the fact that Maggie thinks she knows more about raising Leigh’s daughter than Leigh does. Leigh doesn’t want Courtie to have candy, and wants her to go to bed at the same time every night. Maggie constantly tries to undermine Leigh’s authority. I’m sorry, but when it’s not your kid, even when it’s your sister, you roll with the parents’ decision, unless they’re legitimately hurting the kid. And then Ann basically justifies Maggie’s behavior at the end. Totally shades of the BSC thinking they’re the best parents in Stoneybrook.

Overall, the most interesting thing about this book, if you’ve never read it before and are a BSC fan, are all of the things that jump out as being “BSC!” to you. (Courtie is afraid of an imaginary red mitten that snores under her bed!) If you want to read a book about a missing child, however, I’d probably go with the Face on the Milk Carton series instead. Judging by the number of external links I found, and all of the things I found from schools who still use this book, it still seems to be more popular than some of Ann’s other books from this era.

External links:
Are You There, Youth? It’s Me, Nikki on Missing Since Monday
Kirkus Review (apparently With You and Without You was published first, oops)
Lost Classics of Teen Lit, 1939-1989
Red House Books

Next week, With You and Without You. I am probably going to pull a Mary Anne and cry the whole time I’m reading it.

No Responses To This Post

Subscribe to this post comment rss or trackback url

Response To This Topic

Please Note: The comment moderation may be active so there is no need to resubmit your comment