Having read (or partly read) so many ordinary teen and YA books in recent times, I have made a promise to myself.
From now on I only read stuff I like, am interested in or that moves me. If it's uninspiring, poorly written, ill-conceived or completely lacking in humour, intelligence and authenticity, then I will leave it where I found it (the TBR at work).
Writing reviews about books that leave me cold are torturous. I struggle to string my words together, I put off writing them.
Books that enrage me, upset me or disappoint me are another matter entirely - they have moved me to feel something. Books that are difficult to read with challenging characters and ideas, tough decisions and harsh conditions are good too - they push me outside my comfort zone. The force me to reconsider and reassess as I plough through the sadness and the bleakness.
Friday Brown is one of those books.
At one level it is bleak and harsh. Friday's life is full of change, chaos and grief. The street kids she befriends are desperately lost and confused. They become caught up in the crazy machinations of the enigmatic but dangerously selfish and manipulative Arden.
The first chapter of this book read like a Deep South gothic ghost story set amongst the cotton fields. I was hooked by the eerie, luscious use of language.
But then a couple of geographic terms threw me...are we in Australia? A quick google, and yes! Vikki Brown is Australian.
As I continued reading I saw that the story was, indeed, firmly rooted in the Australian landscape - both urban and rural.
Friday's story was disturbing and hard to read. My heart ached for their lack of choices, their lack of hope. I couldn't read huge chunks of it in one go. I kept laying it aside to have a break from their lives, even though I knew that street kids all around the world never had that luxury.
The thing that kept me going though was Friday. She was strong. Despite everything going against her she had hope and she was capable of making friends and feeling love. And ultimately she was able to make good choices because of this ability.
This is uncompromising YA fiction and I can't recommend it highly enough.
I, for one, will be searching out a copy of Wakefield's debut novel, from last year, All I Ever Wanted in the hope that it moves me just as much as Friday Brown.
Friday Brown is a September release by Text Publishing.