Friday Brown is quite possibly the best book I have read all year. I read it with a breathless anticipation, hung off every word on the page, and felt heartsick when Friday did. It is a book filled with poignant and subtle imagery and characters so realistic that you start to wonder if you've actually known them your whole life.
It begins with a mother and daughter telling stories. The mother tells the daughter about the family curse. Each woman in the Brown family for generations has drowned on a Saturday, and so Vivienne has named her daughter Friday in the hopes that she will ward off the curse. "Run like hell," she tells Friday. "Or dive in." These simple words seem like a mantra for living, and they stay with Friday on her journey. When Vivienne succumbs to a cancer- she drowns in the fluid that builds up in her lungs- Friday hits the road. She meets Silence, a lovable, mute take on the Artful Dodger and he brings her back to his place. He and his friends- Carrie, Bree, Joe, AiAi, the irritable beauty queen Darcy, the menacing Malik and the captivating but dangerous leader Arden- take Friday in. Together they squat, doing whatever they can to make enough money to stay. Meanwhile, the curse seems to be creeping up on Friday.
While this is a Young Adult book by category, the voice of Friday is anything but whiny and teenage. Friday is very human. She is faced with several difficult choices and battles personal demons without whining and without getting distracted by boys at every turn. For the despondent mother I spoke to on Saturday who could not find a YA book which was not dystopian or valley-girl, this book is what you are looking for. The style- down to earth but poetic- is reminiscent of John Marsden's Tomorrow series, and the book is peppered with imagery from Australian history and fairy tales/ mythology. I particularly liked the way that the book was wholly grounded in reality whilst at the same time conjuring the idea of water as a menacing figure coming after Friday. It is a beautifully written book.
And I give it five out of five!