Release Date: September 10, 2013 (US)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
Thoughts on Friday Never Leaving
I'm convinced that Australia has something special in the water that makes their authors that much more talented. I mean, honestly, I can't think of anything written by an Australian author that I've read and haven't at least liked. When I spotted Friday Never Leaving (published as Friday Brown in Australia) at the bookstore, I was immediately intrigued. I didn't know it was by an Australian author at first, but I knew that the cover caught my eye. Was it creepy? Sure. But it did make me take a second look.
Since I hadn't heard anything about the book, I decided to sit down with it in the café area of the bookstore and read a few pages. After a few minutes in the prologue, I was sold. A quick look-up on Goodreads revealed a five-star rating from Mandee at VeganYANerds. She's a legit Aussie, and I totally trust her Aussie book recommendations. I considered just snagging a copy for my Kindle, but I had a feeling this book might be something special. And in that case, I wanted it on my bookshelves.
Friday Brown has never settled down. She's grown up on the road with her mother, always running away. The only thing she knows about her history are the small tidbits that her mother chooses to share. It's a shadowy history - a past with so many holes that the only thing Friday consistently carries with her are questions.
And then the central figure in her life, the woman who has had an incredible influence on who she is today, succumbs to cancer. Friday doesn't know what to do with herself. She can live with her grandfather, but the man is a stranger to her. So, she goes back to what she knows: constant motion. Packing a bag and heading for the city, she doesn't know what the future holds but she's ready to find out.
Friday ends up joining an unlikely group - street kids squatting in an abandoned house. The group is led by a fierce and intimidating girl named Arden. Arden is unsettling and intense. She's like storm that you keep watching and waiting for it to turn into a tornado. Her moods are all over the place, and she expects total devotion from the makeshift family that she's formed. Friday doesn't quite fit in, and her presence disrupts their way-of-life and exposes the dysfunction among them.
Of all the street kids, my favorite was Silence. He is the boy that first finds Friday at the train station and brings her into their fold. He doesn't speak, which adds an air of mystery to him. As you slowly discover his story, your heart will just break when you learn all that he's suffered. The dynamic between Friday and Silence was my favorite, but I also found it interesting how Friday related to Arden. There is a very strange tone hanging over all of their interactions.
Characters absolutely define this book, but I can't neglect to mention something about the setting and the writing. Although I've never been to Australia before, this still felt so authentic and Australian to me. There are things about the book that make it seem universal, and then there are things that helped me create a picture of where this was taking place. I loved the elements that felt very Australian!
And oh, the writing. Wakefield has crafted a really beautiful book. The language felt so lyrical, and I found myself wanting to re-read certain paragraphs multiple times just to savor the words. Again, I don't want what they've got in the water over there but I hope the authors keep drinking it. There's a beauty in the harshness and rawness that's depicted in this book.
This book lingered in my mind long after I'd finished - partly because of what happens and partly because of the things Friday learns in her journey. This isn't a light or fluffy story of a girl trying to find herself. It's raw, painful and dangerous. But it's also so unique and compelling - a book unlike anything I've read in contemporary YA. I can see myself recommending this people who want to read a contemporary book that feels more adult or something that has a darker tone.
"Watching someone you love die is like driving through a fog. You know you're headed somewhere but you can't see your hand in front of your face; you're so focused on steering without crashing that you never say the things you want to say."