Friday Never Leaving

322p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442486522; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442486553. LC 2012036386.
Gr 9 Up—Friday Brown has grown up on the road in Australia with her mother, moving from town to town, surviving on grit and circumstance. When her mother dies from cancer, Friday is left to drift on her own, consumed by grief and lingering questions about her family and her identity. Why did her mother leave home when she was so young? Who is her father and can she find him? The 17-year-old meets a cluster of young squatters, all of whom suffer from their own traumatic pasts and pool their money to survive. Mesmerized by Arden, the enigmatic leader, Friday joins the group and forms a strong connection with Silence, who can barely speak. Sound overblown? That's only the beginning, as the group's alliances are tested by hazing rituals, romantic entanglements, and a relocation to a dangerous ghost town. Oh, and a murder. This novel is well written, but the conflicts often feel inflated. Nonetheless, it is a solid choice for readers who enjoy stories with an emotional punch.—Denise Ryan, Middlesex Middle School, Darien, CT
Friday's unstable mother dies, victim of a family curse. Panicked and grieving, Friday runs away and falls in with a group of homeless teens. On the streets, Friday gains confidence and forges tentative friendships, but her constant interior monologue--brooding observations interwoven with childhood memories--reveals a complex struggle to both cherish and escape her mother's legacy. Tense and evocative.
For generations, Brown women have died by drowning, and always on a Saturday. When Vivienne Brown has a daughter, she teaches her to swim and nicknames her Friday. Vivienne is impulsive, unstable, and always on the run, but she holds Friday in thrall with her dark family lore and fierce protection. But Vivienne can’t outrun death forever: cancer strikes, filling her lungs with fluid and thus drowning her. Friday is left to bear the burden of the family curse alone. Panicked and grieving, she runs away and falls in with a group of homeless teens living under the watch of the beautiful, volatile Arden. On the streets, Friday gains confidence in her survival skills and forges tentative friendships with fellow runaways, but her constant interior monologue—brooding, lyrical observations woven with childhood memories—reveals a painful, complex struggle to both cherish and escape her mother’s legacy. Vivienne’s powerful presence and Arden’s beguiling cruelty sometimes overpower Friday’s more subdued characterization, but the deft parallels between these two maternal figures add considerable depth to Friday’s interactions with Arden. Tension rises precipitously when the two girls finally clash, leading to a shockingly violent conclusion, but Friday’s battle with grief and inheritance is tense and evocative from first page to last. jessica tackett macdonald

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