I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Simon & Schuster BfYR on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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Friday Brown has never had a home. She and her mother live on the road, running away from the past instead of putting down roots. So when her mom succumbs to cancer, the only thing Friday can do is keep moving. Her journey takes her to an abandoned house where a bunch of street kids are squatting, and an intimidating girl named Arden holds court.
Friday gets initiated into the group, but her relationship with Arden is precarious, which puts Friday—and anyone who befriends her—at risk. With the threat of a dangerous confrontation looming, Friday has to decide between returning to her isolated, transient life, or trying to help the people she’s come to care about—if she can still make it out alive.
I’m definitely in the minority here, standing out in a swarm of raving reviews. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book, it’s a GOOD book, but I didn’t love it as much as I expected. It’s also a weird review to write because I can see what’s so great about the book, I understand why it could even be a Printz prize winner, but it was just not the right book at the right time for me.
This book has gotten a lot of love from the Australian release under the name “Friday Brown” as it’s an immensely gritty, literary read with layers of meaning and thought provoking themes. Our protagonist has gone to the streets after losing her mother to cancer. A mother who has told her stories about a curse that’s been in her family for generations. A mother who has moved them around her whole life, never leaving time to form friendships, connections, or a feeling of belonging. Mostly, though, this story concentrates on the thick and thin of what’s it’s like to be a teenager on the streets, having to fend for yourself, but also how they come to build their own family, their own destiny. There is no sugar coating it. It’s honest and ugly and emotionally conflicting, told in an achingly beautiful way.
Multi-layered with painful stories of their own, the characters really are part of a big family; unconventional, but all they have is each other. Silence is the one who came closest to my heart. With everything in his past, having lost his voice tragically, he still comes off as someone who loves life. The relationship that he and Friday form is a great dynamic in the book. I loved how she understood him in a profound way. Though most notably, Friday’s voice is real. She shares her story in a painful, tragic manner, but also filling us with promise and hope.
It’s evident that I recognize Friday Never Leaving as a powerful, beautifully written novel. Nevertheless, it’s like its force whizzed right by me. Something kept jarring me back to reality. Maybe it was the oddity of the story – it bounced from cursed destiny to grief filled contemporary to B-rated horror movie, with a dash of romance, – or the sometimes too elaborate prose, or the characters who felt like strangers to me even at the end – though maybe that was the intention? Whatever it was, and with sadness, I failed to get emotionally invested. I think my head was not in the right place for such a challenging read at the time, but it’s not one I’m likely to forget regardless. I do recommend it to those who enjoy meaningful, raw, literary reads.
3 Hot Espressos