My Name’s Not Friday. I love the title. My name is not Friday. It says so much to me.
In the Afterword, Jon Walter talks about markers in the book like the embargo on cotton, which happened during the first year of the American Civil War. Yet, he warns the reader that if you try too hard to figure out the timeline of the novel, you’ll come across one red herring after another – he did not want to restrict himself to a ‘true’ timeline or even to just real places. If I ever write historical fiction, I wonder, will I have the courage to do that? Somehow, I doubt it.
Perhaps the book would not work for people who are very familiar with the American Civil War. Perhaps it would make them cringe and shake their heads with annoyance at the liberties Walter has taken. But for me, the story was paramount.
A young black boy being raised in an orphanage is secretly sold into slavery. The priest who runs the orphanage needs money every now and then to keep the orphanage running. And after all, sacrifice is part of service, isn’t it?
But when he is sold, Samuel loses everything. He loses the right to call his body his own. He even loses his name because the slave-trader names him Friday.
Samuel, with his personalised, interventionist God, is convinced that he must do good things each day to keep his brother, who is still at the orphanage, safe. He keeps a record with God, making a list of good things he does each day to add to his account. It’s only when things begin to get murky and he needs to go against his owner to fight for freedom, that he does not know whether the things he does are good or bad. If you lie, can it be good? If you are deceitful, does the end justify the means?
The story twists and turns, sometimes in wonderful ways and sometimes not. In parts, I wondered whether I liked the story at all. In other parts, I was just pulled into the narrative and had to swallow a gulp in my throat so that I could keep reading.
|Title||My Name’s Not Friday|
|Rating (out of 5)||4|