Monday, September 09, 2013

Review: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

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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.

Review: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki WakefieldFriday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield
Published by Simon & Schuster BfYR on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

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.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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21 Responses to “Review: Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I was tempted to request a copy of this book, but I ended up not doing it because I wasn’t sure it would be the book for me and after reading your review I think I made the right decision.
    It’s a shame that despite this book being such a well-written profound book, you couldn’t connect with the story on an emotional level. It happens to me often too,most recently with All Our Yesterdays. I thought it was well-written book but I was never emotionally invested in the story or the characters.
    I do like the sound of the bond between Silence and Friday. Lovely review, Giselle!

  2. Wendy @ Escape Into Fiction

    Interesting review! I’ve seen this book spotlighted around the blogosphere and was curious about it. But I’m not sure it’s going to be the right kind of book for me. I have to be invested in my characters and experience what they’re experiencing emotionally in order for me to really enjoy the story. I might someday give this one a try but it’s not high on my list at the moment.

    Thanks for the great review…I can definitely relate!

  3. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    This does sound like a great book. I totally get what you mean about not being the right time to read something though. There have been a lot of books that I felt like I probably would have enjoyed more at a different time. Fabulous review hon!!

  4. Christianna

    This was such an interesting review! It’s a bummer when you know a book is really good and yet you can’t connect with it personally. It happens with music for me all the time. It sounds like this book is so gritty and I like gritty, so maybe at some point I’ll give it a try!

  5. Megan

    Hmm, this one sounds really quite interesting. I’m not always a fan of literary type books. This one definitely sounds like you need to go in with a certain mindset.

  6. Jenni

    Oh man I think this could be a good one for me any day of the week. You know I am always looking for good, raw contemps. But I don’t think I could read it right now, maybe one day!

  7. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    A very trusted friend of mine actually recommended this to me, and when I requested it on EW, I got rejected. T_T Too bad the emotions kind of whizzed past you, though. In order for a book as powerful and gritty as this to impact me, I HAVE to feel it, but it sounds like this one was pretty unspectacular on a whole. Great review, Giselle!

  8. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    I know exactly what you mean about not being the right book for you at the right time. Some of the heavier books or books that deal with some of the tougher topics, I have to be in the right mood to fully appreciate them. Lighter books I can devour almost anytime but this book sounds like it is a heavy read.

    Thanks for the great review, it actually helped me more than some of the gushing reviews.

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  9. Vivian

    Yeah, this sounds like something I wouldn’t like so much. I’m all for “powerful” and “well-written” books, but I need action, drama, and engaging characters in my books, especially lately w/all the reading slumps I’ve been going thru and all the crap or “meh” books I’ve been reading.

  10. Lyra

    I love raw, emotional reads, so I’m still giving this one a shot, but I do know what you mean when you say that you just can’t connect with the story. I’m pretty sure all of use have experienced that one way or another.

    Insightful review as usual Giselle – I had high hopes for this novel, but I’m definitely going to lower my expectations before I read this.

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

  11. Laureen

    I love powerful, well-written, emotional reads but somehow this sounds like too much of a good thing, you know? Well, obviously you know since it seems to have gone that way for you, too. I may need to hunt it down eventually, but not right now. Today is not the day for something like this, I guess. Thanks for sharing!

  12. tam francis

    Sounds very intense, and sometimes I’m just not in the mood for intense, so I know what you mean. Will check out more of your reviews. How fun to have found you.

  13. Aman

    Oh, I haven’t heard of this before, but I agree, you need to be in a specific mod to read this one. I like the realisticity it shows about survival in streets, but I feel like I would have the same response as you did. On another note, am I the only one who can’t look at the cover for more than 2 seconds? It’s kind of creepy.

  14. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Ahh I hate how that happens, I’ve definitely had books where I can’t find anything wrong with it, and I love the story and everything, but it’s just one of those books that you don’t read at the right time and you can’t get into it, like you said. I’m glad that you did appreciate the emotional quality and the grittiness, though, it definitely sounds like it would be a fantastic read, although I might have the same issue you were having because my head is usually not focused at all during school time >.<

    Fantastic review, though, Giselle! <33

  15. Pili

    It sounds like a very different kind of contemporary read, and intriguing enough for me to add it to the TBR list!

    But you are right, sometimes you know it’s not the book’s fault, but your mindset or emotional state at the moment that doesn’t let you connect to it. Thanks for such an honest review!

  16. Jack

    I have to disagree with all the comments. This is one of my favourite books of all time and the characters are the most engaging, emotional characters I’ve ever come across. I felt so connected to the story, I was totally engrossed in it. It was gritty, and raw, but delicate at the same time. I thought it was perfect. And I actually felt sad leaving the book behind because of how much I loved the characters. Vikki Wakefield is definitely an author to look out for in my eyes. 🙂

  17. Brianna C

    First impression-the cover looks awesome! Now reading your review, I am tempted to not read this immediately. It sounds like it is a very well written book, but it would be hard to know when it is the right time to read-when I would enjoy it best. I may still give it a shot one day!