Review: Friday Brown

Friday Brown – Vikki Wakefield

Published: August 2012

Sourced: ARC from publisher

Rating: 9/10

I thought it was about time I threw in a review of a book by an author from my own country, so this week’s featured title is of one of my favourite recent Australian YA releases by the star author of All I Ever Wanted.

When Friday’s mother dies, it brings an end to their nomadic life of drifting from town to town whenever things get too difficult. Friday quickly discovers that the stagnant life of living with her grandfather doesn’t quite suit her, and that it is very difficult to stop running from your past when running is all you know.

Meeting Silence, the damaged boy with a loyal, loving heart and a horrific past, Friday falls in with a bunch of street kids who are just about as horrible as they are wonderful. Ruling over them all with an iron fist and a sweet smile is the charismatic and dangerous Arden. And even as Friday is drawn further into their strange world, losing her power and feeling desperately out of place as she falls victim to Arden’s machinations, she manages to find something worth staying for. Something worth fighting for, for the first time in her life.

This is one of the most beautiful and terrifying coming-of-age novels to be found in the Aussie YA market. Melina Marchetta’s On the Jellicoe Road meets John Larkin’s The Shadow Girl, and for those of you who don’t worship at the altar of Marchetta, that basically translates as, well, amazing is a criminal understatement. It is horrible and wonderful and very Australian without begin over-the-top and tacky (quite the achievement). Friday is a turbulent, complex character who makes frustrating choices and can appear both incredibly strong and annoyingly weak, which all just manages to make her growth that much more organic.

While the beginning of the novel didn’t capture my interest overmuch (really, homeless teenagers – hasn’t this been done before?), I was quickly drawn in by the fascinating characters and the nail-biting tension of the second half. Vikki Wakefield’s writing is masterful, powered by her talent for capturing a sense of place. Plus, there is a sinister and terrifying family curse. I love a good family curse.

Vikki Wakefield’s second novel is the sort of book that plays around in your mind for days afterwards. It affects your thinking and leaves you feeling unsettled in the way that only the best books can. It is marvellous and complex and utterly, devastatingly beautiful. Friday Brown is a unique addition to the world of Australian YA literature, and one that is bound to become a classic.  

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