Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Friday Brown has been used to never have one permanent home as she’s traveled here and there with her mom but she’s always felt like that’s where she belonged — on the road with her mom. When Friday’s mom passes away, she finds herself presented with a new home but she can’t give up feeling like she needs to be on the move. So she leaves the security she could have and decides to go in search of her own place to belong — which ends up being with a group of other street kids who is held together by Arden, a girl who has a strong hold on the group and who likes to play games — especially when anyone challenges her.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know I love me some Aussie YA (here’s a Aussie YA 101 list to get you started if you don’t know the magic that is Aussie YA). Vikki Wakefield was one of those Aussie authors I’ve yet to read yet so I grabbed Friday Never Leaving (titled Friday Brown in Australia) to give her a try. The verdict? I was impressed by this quiet yet moving novel! It was a gritty, emotional novel about what makes a home and a family and that never-ending quest to find where you belong.
Some things I loved:
- The rag-tag group of street kids: I don’t typically read a lot of books about young adults who are homeless or runaways. I enjoyed learning a little bit about their heartbreaking stories and, even though there were some toxic aspects of their little family they made together, I really enjoyed seeing they came together to make a family and a home out of their situation and how they looked out for each other. The dynamics are complex, no doubt, but I really loved following this group and coming to care about these characters who have slipped through the cracks of society. Their personalities were so distinct and honestly I wish I had some sort of novella followup so I can know what happened to all of them!!
- The writing & emotions portrayed: Oh just that Aussie magic that runs deep over there apparently!! There is this paragraph about grief and losing someone that just SLAYED ME.
- How it so perfectly balanced character and plot: I love how it flowed — memories of Friday’s childhood and life with her mom intermingled with Friday’s journey trying to find her own way after her mom passes away. It had all the character-driven qualities I love in a novel and was wrought with emotion and these stirring passages and then there are these super charged and intense situations that had me biting my nails. I felt the intensity of life on the street, the dangers, the uncertainties. I think the plot went places I didn’t expect which definitely upped the intensity and actually was a pleasant surprised though at times I was like WOW IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING.
- How home, family and belonging were explored: It’s always been Friday and her mom. The stories she knows are stories told by her mom. All the history she knows from her mom. She belonged — on the road going here and there with her mom. When her mom dies Friday finds herself alone. She has family that she never knew. She could have a home. But her sense of belonging has disappeared. I loved how the book explored this idea so beautifully and emotionally as all these kids, Friday included, are trying to cobble together some semblance of belonging — something they all share.
Friday Never Leaving was such a gem and I wish it got more love here in the States when it got published. I cared about the characters and couldn’t put it down with the tension and intensity heightened. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful and quiet but the sorrow and grief and loneliness rattled my bones…and the sense of hope I did feel amidst it all sent me soaring.
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
What other Aussie gems should I have my eye on??