Title: Friday Brown
Author: Vikki Wakefield
Release Date: 22nd August 2012
My Rating: 5/5
‘They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown…’
Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run, trying to escape memories of her mother and the family curse. She befriends Silence, a strange boy with a troubled past. But it is the charismatic Arden who will challenge Friday in more ways than she’d like. In Murungal Creek, a ghost town in the outback, Friday must face her own past. She learns that family, like fate, is more than what you’re born with—and that love is always worth fighting for.
In A Nutshell:
An exceptional Australian novel. Read the whole review.
Where to start with a book like this? I know I said in my review of Vikki’s first book, All I Ever Wanted, that I didn’t quite ‘get’ what everyone was going crazy about. Well, I’m a little bit late to the party but oh my god, Friday Brown blew my mind!
The opening chapter was haunting and heartfelt and I was just as mesmerised by Vikki’s writing as Friday was by the campfire, as her mother told her about the curse that affects the women in their family.
The novel is honest and gritty, and completely captivating as you are reeled into Friday’s life as she fights to stay above water and find her way after the death of her mother.
While sitting at a train station trying to figure out what to do next, Friday meets Silence, a boy with a tragic past. They feel an instant connection and with nowhere else to go, Friday follows Silence back to the building in which he and other homeless kids squat. It is here she meets Arden, the ‘mother hen’ figure, although without the niceties that the description usually conjures.
Arden is charismatic, but toxic, a somewhat destructive psychopathic mix to encounter. She has the ability to draw someone in and put them in a position that even though they might want to leave, they just can’t bring themselves to do so. She reminds me of the character of Alice from Rebecca James’s novel, Beautiful Malice.
Friday carries so much around with her, as do the other teenagers she meets. They are kids looking for a family, somewhere to belong and feel safe. They are raw, with a loneliness about them that could break your heart but they continue to be hopeful, despite the pain and desperation they have, and sometimes still suffer. The friendship between Friday and Silence is one of hand signals and intuition as Silence cannot speak. It is a strong friendship, the kind that comes around once in a lifetime, something no one else in the house understands, or in the case of Arden, likes. When Arden becomes overly controlling and goes too far, it’s up to Friday to decide whether she will “run like hell, or dive in”.
Set in both the city and the bush of Australia, the events in Friday Brown are a stark contrast to the majority of novels out there for young adults. From homeless teenagers living in squats to outback flash flooding, Friday’s life is different to most of ours. But we are similar in the ways we fight for our futures, how we seek our own identities, how we want to belong and how deep our friendships can run.
Vikki Wakefield’s writing has a uniquely Australian feel to it, the kind that takes me back to the first YA books I read almost 15 years ago. I tried to put my finger on it when I reviewed Phillip Gwynne’s novel Swerve, but I was never able to quite explain it. I wrote,
“Reading this book took me back to the YA books I used to read almost 10 years ago, from the fantastic work of Margaret Clark, Glyn Parry's Scooter Boy, Jaclyn Moriarty's Feeling Sorry For Celia and Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry and the books by John Marsden. These were the books that first got me interested in reading when I was 12 or 13 and they still remain some of my favourite books to this day. Swerve took me back to this style of writing and everyday teens living in Australia with their own issues and insecurities. I can't quite explain what made them so special, but they are.”
I feel Friday Brown fits into this category perfectly.
The Incredible Rambling Elimy