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Authors: Vikki Wakefield

Tags: #Fiction young adult

Friday Brown

BOOK: Friday Brown
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


Winner of the 2012 Adelaide Festival Literary Award for Young-Adult Fiction
A 2012 CBCA Notable Book Shortlisted for the
2012 REAL Awards (Children’s Choice Book Awards)
Shortlisted, 2011 Gold Inky

‘This is one of the most memorable YA books I’ve ever read. The voice is original, the characters are real, the language is startling and beautiful. And the plot keeps you trapped till the dangerous but hopeful end.’ Cath Crowley, author of
Graffiti Moon

‘With a heart-swelling conclusion, Wakefield’s novel contains characters so palpable you can imagine passing them in the street.’
Weekend Australian

‘I read this novel in one gulp, loving every moment of the narrator’s voice…
All I Ever Wanted
is a brilliant coming-of-age novel.

Australian Bookseller + Publisher

‘While it’s both a thriller and a gritty romance, for me
All I Ever Wanted
is first and foremost a sparkling journey into hope…I loved this book.’ Paul Griffin, author of
Ten Mile River

‘Can someone give this girl a holiday or a medal or something?’

‘Vikki Wakefield has created a feisty, sharp-witted and thoughtful heroine.’
Adelaide Review

‘Full of hope, with a touching ending and a compelling heroine.’
Canberra Times

‘Vikki Wakefield is a powerful new voice in Australian young-adult literature with strong characters and a gritty, humorous tone to her writing.’
Fiction Focus

‘All I Ever Wanted
will be a sure-fire winner with voracious YA readers who prefer realism to fantasy…Vikki Wakefield has created a character with an enviable turn of narrative phrase and a distinctive inner and outer life.’
Saturday Age

‘An uplifting, funny, powerful and truly memorable book with its heart in exactly the right place… beautifully written.’
Sunday Tasmanian

‘Vikki Wakefield’s debut is a delight.’

‘All I Ever Wanted
is a thoughtful and impressive debut, and Wakefield a talent to watch.’
Australian Book Review

‘A wonderful story full of bizarre characters told with humour and warmth…A true to life novel that will catch the attention of the teen reader and will also be enjoyed by adults. Highly recommended.’
Reading Time, CBCA Journal

Vikki Wakefield lives in the Adelaide foothills with her family. Her first young-adult novel,
All I Ever Wanted,
won the 2012 Adelaide Festival Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, was a 2012 CBCA Notable Book and was shortlisted for the 2012 REAL Awards (Children’s Choice Book Awards).

The Text Publishing Company
Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000

Copyright © Vikki Wakefield 2012

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

First published by The Text Publishing Company 2012

Design by WH Chong
Typeset by J&M Typesetting
Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press

The lines of poetry on pp. 97-98 are from Dora Wilcox’s poem ‘Call of the Bush’.

The lines on p.187 are originally from novelist Charles Reide.

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry Author: Wakefield, Vikki, 1970-

Title: Friday Brown / Vikki Wakefield.

ISBN: 9781921922701 (pbk.)

ISBN: 9781921921469 (ebook : epub)

Target Audience: For young adults.

Subjects: Life change events—Fiction.

Dewey Number: A823.4

For Mia, my girl, my heart.

Table of Contents


About the Author

Title Page


Friday Brown

Part 1 The City

Part 2 Dust



My life has been told to me through campfire tales—stories that spill over when the fire has burned low and silence must be filled. They’re like old coats hauled from the back of the cupboard. Dusted off, aired out, good as new. My mother, Vivienne, doled them out as reward or consolation, depending on her mood. And so I came to know myself—through the telling and retelling. They became as much a part of me as blood or bone. On the night of my eleventh birthday, Vivienne told me that I was cursed. It was her gift, she said. When she was gone the Brown women’s curse would pass to me and, if I ever knew which way death would come, I should run hard in the other direction.

I listened to her with wide eyes, bitten nails and a delicious detachment, like watching a horror film and
knowing it couldn’t reach through the screen. I could leave her stories in the dark, remember them when I felt like it and forget them when I didn’t. When you’re eleven, you don’t think of before or after. Only that moment and maybe tomorrow.

That night.

Vivienne was drunk. We were sleeping rough under a blanket of stars after leaving a hostel in our usual way: beds unmade, bills unpaid, through a back door. Vivienne had outstayed her welcome again, had taken something that wasn’t hers to take. In the morning we would leave our dusty campsite and hitch a ride to another four-syllable town. I knew the routine well.

It was cold. A mallee stump smouldered and hissed and I watched her through a veil of smoke and shooting sparks.

She was chain-smoking. Drinking from a bottle of vodka as she spoke. Stops and starts, like punctuation, she puffed and swigged.

‘Corrie-anne Brown,’ she slurred. ‘Nineteen-oh-four. It was a Saturday. Corrie-anne Brown marched through the centre of town, a woman on a mission. Some said she looked like she carried the weight of the world on her shoulders that day. But no one stopped her or asked where she was going. She walked into the river, leaving her baby son abandoned in his cradle for two days. When they pulled her out of the river she was wearing every single item of clothing she owned—four skirts, seven blouses, three pairs of stockings and one Sunday hat.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘So she wouldn’t float, silly.’

‘Did she die? Why would she leave her baby? Did he die?’

‘Of course she died. She weighed more than a small elephant. And the baby was fine. Now be quiet and listen.’

‘I’m listening,’ I said.

‘In nineteen-twenty-six, Marieke Brown went with her husband and three children to a country fair. She was bobbing for apples, going for the record, and there were people all around cheering as she went under for the ninth time in a minute.’ Puff. Swig. Exhale. ‘After two minutes somebody thought to pull her out,’ she went on. ‘That record-breaking apple, only the size of a plum, was stuck in her throat. It was a Saturday.’

I remember finishing a bag of liquorice and feeling sick.

‘Alicia Brown, nineteen-forty-two. She married Marieke’s eldest son. Alicia was a Red Cross nurse in the Second World War. She couldn’t pass a bundle of fur by the roadside without stopping to check for a pulse. One day she pulled over to drag a dead cat out of the middle of the road and she was clipped by another car. She landed face first in a ditch and drowned in a few centimetres of mud.’

‘Which day?’ I was dog-tired and all I wanted to do was close my eyes, but when Vivienne was on a roll, you had to play along.

‘What do you think?’

‘Was it a Saturday?’

‘Now you’re catching on.’ She tipped the dregs of the vodka onto the hot coals and stared at the eerie blue flame. ‘Belle Brown, nineteen-fifty-six. Saturday night, of course. Belle was going dancing with a nice boy from a good family. She ran a hot bath and stepped in…’

‘She drowned in the bath?’

‘No. Before she could sit down, the phone rang. Belle got out of the bath, went to the kitchen, picked up the receiver and slipped on the wet floor. She hit her head, the cord wrapped around her throat and she choked to death.’

‘That’s not drowning.’

‘But there’s always water. Don’t you see?’

‘Belle didn’t have kids, then,’ I said, yawning. ‘So who was next?’

‘Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Belle had a younger brother. My father. He was only ten when his sister died and he never forgot about the Brown women’s curse. He vowed never to marry—but he fell in love.’

‘Who with?’

‘Here’s the amazing thing. She was an athlete, a swimmer. Arielle Dubois. She’d crossed the English Channel three times before they even met, and once after. If there was ever a woman who could beat the curse, she was the one.’

‘My grandmother? How did she die?’ I imagined a tall woman with gills and a pattern of shimmering, bluegreen scales instead of skin. I still think of her like that.

‘Well, they married late and Arielle Dubois stayed Arielle Dubois. She never took the Brown name. When my father became a judge they moved to a big house with no water, only what came out of the taps. But Arielle was miserable. She was dying inside. Like a mermaid out of water, she was shrivelling up.’

I could picture my grandmother so clearly: she was leaning, reaching towards the sea like a carved maiden on the bow of a ship. ‘Did she run away?’

‘No,’ Vivienne said. ‘He knew he was losing her, so my father dug up the backyard and put in a swimming pool.’

I drew in my breath. ‘Did that make her happy?’

BOOK: Friday Brown
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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