Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Friday Brown - Vikki Wakefield

Published: July 2013
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 320


I am Friday Brown. I buried my mother. My grandfather buried a swimming pool. A boy who can’t speak has adopted me. A girl kissed me. I broke and entered. Now I’m fantasizing about a guy who’s a victim of crime and I am the criminal. I’m going nowhere and every minute I’m not moving, I’m being tail-gated by a curse that may or may not be real. They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday I will drown…

Friday, 17, flees memories of her mother, granddad, and the family curse. She joins Silence in a street gang led by beautiful charismatic Arden, and escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday faces the ghosts of her past. Sometimes you have to stay to finish what you started, and before you can find out who you are, you have to become someone you never meant to be.


I will shamelessly tell you that I binge-read Friday Brown. I sat down in the morning, I read half the book. I sat down in the afternoon I finished the book. It was a perfect way to spend the day. I loved this book, it’s  beautiful little gem of a novel that gave me all the feels.

The plot of this book is completely captivating, it sucked me in from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading. The action-based plot kind of trundles along at a pretty solid pace, and then towards the end it shifts into fifth gear all of a sudden and I couldn’t wait to see how it would end. This was definitely a plot driven book, as well as having fantastic characters, themes and a beautiful setting.

Speaking of characters , there is such an interesting mix of characters. The group of homeless teenagers kind of reminded me of that joke “oh they looked like a Benetton commercial”, but in a really good way. There is so much diversity in the group, and they are all really accepting of each other, and I especially loved the way they treated Joe. The two characters I would contrast against each other are Friday and Arden. I adore Friday, she is strong and complex and intelligent and independent. And the same can be said for Arden, except that Friday is compassionate, kind and selfless and Arden is not. Friday is a runner, she has been raised by her mother Vivienne , who dies shortly before the narrative begins. Throughout her childhood Vivienne and Friday roam around Australia running from something, until they cannot run any longer. Vivienne is definitely an unusual character, who we never really figure out. I still have a lot of questions about Vivienne, even know days after reading this book I’m still wondering about one or two things. Vivienne and her way of life both have a huge influence on her daughter, and as Friday journeys through life alone we see her mother’s life and death influence her and her decisions. Parents have a huge influence on their children, which is something I feel that is overlooked a lot in YA, but Wakefield really addresses this is Friday Brown. This book, and specifically this mother-daughter relationship, really reminded me of Red Ink, by Julie Mayhew, which is a good thing because that is a phenomenal book. Through Friday, Wakefield explores the idea of grief, how losing such an influential figure can affect a young person, and how we deal with loss.

Silence is without a doubt my favourite character, he is wonderful and mysterious. He has a heartbreaking backstory, and seems to be the personification of how young/homeless people can be overlooked when it is convenient for us, and only noticed when they cause trouble. Wish, on the other hand, is my least favourite character. I felt like he was an unnecessary addition, one of my biggest pet peeves is unnecessary characters and irrelevant romance.

The setting of this book is beautiful. Half set in an unnamed Australian city, and half set in the outback, the setting of this book had a huge effect on me. This is actually only the second book set in Australia I’ve ever read (a problem I plan to rectify as soon as possible), and for a really long time I couldn’t figure out where it was set. The descriptions of the Australian outback are so beautiful, they were unlike any other setting I have ever read about, and they really blew me away. And I loved the way Friday’s character changes with her surroundings. We can see how Friday seems more lost and dependent in the city, but really comes into her own when she travels to the outback.

The final aspect I’d like to talk about is destiny, or fate, whichever you prefer. Before she dies Vivienne tells Friday that all the Brown women are cursed to die in some way related to water,on a Saturday. Friday wrestles with this idea, and throughout the book we see her run from and embrace her destiny, trying to come to terms with whether or not the curse will strike her too. There is a tinge of magical realism in the way Wakefield deals with this curse. In this way, Wakefield carefully explores the influence we have over our lives, and how we can influence our own destiny, if we dive in or run away. This book is also really friendship oriented, which is a nice change from all the romance in YA contemporary novels.

Overall a pretty stellar book. I knew nothing about this book before reading it, and I’ll confess the only reason I picked it up was because of the pretty cover and the intriguing line “It has been foretold on a Saturday I will drown”. This is a wonderful book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes well written, thought provoking high quality YA contemporary fiction.

Four and half Stars  

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