I don’t know whether it was icy weather or the sheer emotional tension of the story, but the night I stayed up to finish Friday Brown I was shivering. Every single character in this book is utterly fascinating, and their tangled relationships create so much force. Having lost her mother, Friday Brown falls in with a band of street children who are led by an unpredictable yet universally adored young woman called Arden. Arden’s furious intensity when she is angry, and charisma when she is calm, overwhelms Friday, and against her better judgement she stays with the band for too long. The immediacy of the street kids’ problems is not instantly apparent, but when Arden cracks, and the kids are thrown into a world solely under her control, it becomes evident how little power—physical or psychological—they have. Throughout the book, Friday is haunted by the ghost of her recently dead mother, and by a family curse—a long lineage of drowning. Set against an Australian landscape brimming with the gothic, and full of elegaic beauty and intelligent insights into the human mind, this is a stunning contribution to young-adult fiction, and one that will rate as highly memorable among both mature young-adult readers and adults.
Kate Sunners is a creative writing graduate and an ex-bookseller. This review first appeared in the June/July issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine. View more pre-publication reviews here.