Saturday 16 November 2013

Friday Brown

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield (Text Publishing)
RRP $19.99
ISBN 9781921922701
Reviewed by Wendy Fitzgerald 

Friday Brown is the second YA book from Adelaide writer Vikki Wakefield. It won a host of awards. Long listed for the Gold Inky Award 2013, Shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award 2013, the WA Premier’s Book Award 2012 and the Queensland Literary Award 2013. As well it is an Honour book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards of 2013.

I thought I was going to be in for a real treat in reading this book and it was. Wakefield has a gentle way of painting characters you truly care about. She lets us travel with this band of characters from dirty city slums to dusty unforgiving ghost town of Murungal Creek in outback Australia.
Wakefield has written this book in first person and we see the story through the eyes of seventeen year old Liliane (Friday) Brown.  Friday’s mum has just died leaving her alone. A street kid called Silence picks Friday up and introduces her to a gang of lost kids led by a beautiful and charismatic girl called Arden.

Wakefield plays cleverly with the shadowy dynamics of a street gang. The kids in this gang find strength in the security of the group and they form a family of sorts. They are each meant to look after each other’s backs. Arden has taken the role of the leader. She makes the rules and deals out the punishments. She wields power and control.

Through these strong, feisty young characters we confront issues of loyalty, memory, survival, homelessness, power, family, belonging, love, fear and loss. We get a glimpse of what it is like for kids like this who exist in the shadows of our society- kids doing the best they can with what they know of the world.

It’s not surprising they turn to crime. Wakefield doesn’t make judgement. I admire the way she has crafted these characters so we can follow their motivations and empathise with their situation, but still Friday Brown carries her own moral compass and this helps her make sense of various situations.

I think readers over 14 would enjoy this book. There is adventure, mystery, death, fire, flood, drama, romance, surprise, warmth, vulnerability, bravado and a dark family curse. 

You might also like to read Vikki Wakefield’s first YA book, All I Ever Wanted.

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