Friday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

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Friday Never Leaving by Vikki WakefieldFriday Never Leaving by Vikki Wakefield

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this wrenching, exquisite coming-of-age novel, Friday discovers what makes a family – and a home.

Friday Brown has never had a home. She and her mother live on the road, running away from the past instead of putting down roots. So when her mom succumbs to cancer, the only thing Friday can do is keep moving. Her journey takes her to an abandoned house where a bunch of street kids are squatting, and an intimidating girl named Arden holds court.

Friday gets initiated into the group, but her relationship with Arden is precarious, which puts Friday – and anyone who befriends her – at risk. With the threat of a dangerous confrontation looming, Friday has to decide between returning to her isolated, transient life, or trying to help the people she’s come to care about – if she can still make it out alive.

I felt Vivenne’s magic all around me. All the pieces of my life, aligned, all the roads that led me there, signposted. The stars were my witness, and the trees, the moon, the drowning town. Throw stones, make waves, she always said. Rage, rage against the dying of the light, she would sing, out of tune. Her beads would rattle and her bells would jangle and she’d look a little crazy and wild. But now I knew, although her words may have belonged to others first that didn’t make them untrue, just as her stories didn’t make me less than who I am. I am me because of them, because I believed.

p. 288

This book reminds me a little bit of buckshot – kind of all over the place. There are several strands of storyline that come together in the end, a few which get lost along the way, but it ends up not mattering most of the time because what’s going on demands attention.

It’s weird. I wanna rate this book lower, maybe a 3 or 3.5, but I couldn’t give it anything less than 4 simply because its presence resonated so viscerally with me that legitimately had to take a 10-day break from it because it kept unnerving me. There was something haunting about the sparseness of the prose and the strange rhythmic cadence. Vikki Wakefield’s style of writing wrenched at the Ernest Hemingway admirer in me, the way she captured that “write hard and clear about what hurts” essence positively enviable. It has been a long time since the mere composition of a sentence sent shivers down my spine, and Friday Never Leaving is dotted with them not infrequently.

On the cover, Libba Bray’s blurb reads, “A harrowing, heartbreaking, intensely suspenseful story, Friday Never Leaving will break your heart then put the pieces back together in a new way.” This quote is both accurate and misleading – when I searched for words that described how I felt about this book, “harrowing” was the one I found and to see it on the front, in a way, validated it for me. Same with “heartbreaking.” But “intensely suspenseful,” this book is not. The story actually drags towards the middle, as if it is sagging from the weight of its own enormity, appearing stretched out too thin until we realize, towards the end, exactly why that is.

I just… Wow. Like I said earlier, I wanted to rate this book lower, simply because I don’t like books that make me sad – and this book is prolly the saddest one I’ve ever read; I tend to avoid tearjerkers – but I couldn’t in good conscience base my rating off my reluctance to have my emotions manipulated darkly. Just know – know in your heart, readers – Arden is evil. I have five words for why: a sound like church bells. Cue shudder.

Usually I like to re-read – or at least entertain the notion of re-reading – 4 star books, but not this one.

Some kinds of crazy you make for yourself, others you inherit.

p. 320


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