Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

Vikki Wakefield – yet another reason to love Australian authors
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Friday Never Leaving
by Vikki Wakefield
Simon & Schuster | ARC paperback, 317 pages
This, in essence is what Friday Never Leaving is about.
I am Friday Brown. I buried my mother. I ran away from a man who buried a swimming pool. A boy who can’t speak has adopted me. A girl kissed me. I broke and entered. Now I’m fantasising about a guy who’s a victim of crime and I am the criminal. I’m going nowhere and every minute I’m not moving, I’m being tailgated by a curse that may or may not be real. They call me Friday. It has been foretold that on a Saturday, I will drown…

Friday Brown has lived her life as a vagabond, flitting from one town to the next on the heels of her mother. It was told that generations of Brown women have died by drowning in one way or another. So her grandfather – who married a professional swimmer, moved his family far, far inland. But like a mermaid stuck on land, his wife started disintegrating before his eyes. He then builds her a swimming pool. And everyday that she’s in the water, he’d worried and paced and watched her, making sure that she wouldn’t drown. Fate, however has other plans. She drowned on a Saturday. He buried the swimming pool and he hasn’t been the same since. Friday’s mother died from complications brought on by cancer. If you’d asked how she died, I’ll never tell. I’ll leave you to discover exactly how she died. 
Perhaps it was the life that she’s gotten used to, but the stability of living with her grandfather was like the proverbial body of water that’s threatening to drown her. She takes off in search of a father she’s never met and meets Silence, a boy who can’t speak. Through Silence, she meets a group of homeless kids in the care of half terrifying, half enigmatic Arden. And in the difficult life full of strife that she’s attempting to live, she finds meaning and purpose; family and love. Friends and enemies. Most of all, she’ll find a way to face the curse that had long since plagued her family.

If you are under the impression that this book has paranormal elements thrown in it, you’ll be wrong. There is just something supernatural about the way Wakefield wrote her story. Extraordinary characters, extraordinary stories. Silence, for one, will burrow himself in your heart and will hoard all the sympathy you have in your reserves. While Friday Brown may shy from forming any bonds with people, she’s also hungry to be a part of something. And that’s why she vacillates from staying or going.  Whenever she clashes with Arden or Darcy, or when she gets the creepy vibes from Malik there’s always something that freezes her on the spot. She can’t seem to leave.

This book is all heart; which to me is the defining characteristic of what I’ve known of Australian contemporary YA in the short time that I’ve been reading them. It’s gorgeous, dark and lovely, searing and devastating. Those looking for romance will also find something tender and sweet amidst the complex dynamics of the life in the squat. Highly recommended. 

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars