Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield

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Just finished Friday Brown this morning.  A good read, not as hard as it’s size would suggest.

The book:

This is a big sprawling book that wanders from country to suburbs to city to country and back again. As it does Friday finds out a little more about the person she is and wants to become.  When her mother dies she heads out to try and find where she belongs (sure it wasn’t with her grandfather in his imposing house) and she’s claimed by Silence, a street kid, and taken to his squat.  There she discovers the reasons youth end up on the street, the power of a charismatic leader and that of being a woman. 

Things come to a head when Arden (the leader) takes them out of the city and to a ghost town (somewhere past Goulbourn by the hints).  Friday needs to step up and be a leader and face the curse that has plagued her and her family for generations.

Ideas for Presentation:

Definitely high school kids.

Each homeless kid has their own reason for leaving home. A character study, drawing out each character and their motives for living on the street could be linked to a talk about homelessness in general.  Sections of book on each of the characters could be studied by groups who would present their findings to the whole.  Characters that would be good for this are:

Arden:  mental illness, possible abuse (or perceived abuse)

Friday:  no family, at least none that she feels comfortable living with

Silence:  abuse, abandonment

Bree:  poverty and overcrowding

Joe:  gay, discrimination?

Once the group leave the city, Friday’s bush skills honed over years of travelling with her mum help the group survive in a very inhospitable land. Survival skills like those displayed in post apocalyptic books such as World War Z  and The Hunger Games could be talked about.  Bear Grylls is always good for that sort of thing if you have permission to show DVDs in the library.  Maybe in groups kids can search through survival and bush tucker books for tips on how to survive in a desert ghost town.  What five things would they bring? 

In contrast, Friday is told she’s not “Street wise” enough to survive in the city.  Each of the homeless kids have ways of bringing in money to the group.  Silence is a pickpocket, Friday draws chalk drawings on the footpath to accompany her mother’s poetry, Arden seems to sponge off the others, Bree has a night job, Darcy “the boys like her”.  What sort of skills do any of us need to get around a city safely?  (be aware of those around, never count money in public, don’t travel alone late at night, keep to busy public spaces etc)

Murungal Creek is the name of the ghost town they end up at. It means Lightning Creek and that’s proved by the creek flash flooding while they are there.  It would be interesting looking at aboriginal suburbs (and locations) names and see what they mean.  You may have that information on the council’s website or maybe in local history.

Belonging and Discovery:

I started on this part first as this book is all about Belonging.  Friday has just lost her mother, the only person she was ever close to.  She just left her grandfathers, a place she could belong but know the secret why she doesn’t and  find a group of homeless youth that insist that she belongs with them.  Silent, a shadow Artful Dodger character, finds her at a train station and claims her as his own (reminder of a lost sister).  Friday needs to find where she belongs.  With the group, in the city, in the country, with her Grandfather, alone?

There are also a lot of secrets.  The secret why Vivienne left her father’s in the first place, the secret of Silence has his lost voice, the secret power of Arden ( the leader of the homeless kids), the secrets of men and women. Friday’s is a bit of a secret, who was her father, what really is the truth about her past, is she destined to die as her ancestor have, drowning?  Most of the secrets are revealed throughout the book but there are hints that Friday has still to find all that her mum left behind for her.

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