A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Name Is Not Friday is a historical novel by Jon Walter about an African American boy sold into slavery during the last years of the Civil War. It presents a nuanced picture of life as an enslaved worker on a failing plantation at the end of the Civil War. The book has violent scenes, including the whipping of a Black man by a White woman, the gunshot death of a teen, and the disfigurement of a major character in an explosion. One character has a realization that a pretty young enslaved girl will be forced to have sex with her enslaver. "Damn," "hell," "bastard," "ass," and "s--t" are used are used up to a half dozen times each. In keeping with historical realities, the "N" word is used more frequently, almost exclusively by White characters who are invested in the continuation of slavery. There's an audiobook version narrated by Dion Graham.
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What's the story?
African American brothers Samuel and Joshua are freeborn Black boys who live in a Northern orphanage. When Samuel takes the blame for an offense for which Joshua is suspected, he's taken away, renamed, and sold into slavery. Sent to a slowly failing plantation owned by a Mrs. Allen and her son Gerald, Samuel, now known as "Friday," must learn to work with his fellow enslaved people and pretend that he doesn't know how to read, lest he put them all in mortal danger. Through all kinds of hardship, Samuel perseveres, sure he'll one day be reunited with Joshua.
Is it any good?
Finding a new perspective on slavery in America is a daunting task, but author Jon Walter proves more than capable in this sharply detailed and immersive account of one boy's struggle to survive. As freeborn Samuel copes with the enormity of being sold into slavery in Mississippi, his ordeal illuminates the resilience of the human spirit.
There are heroes and scoundrels on both sides of the battle lines, and through thoughtful, suspenseful, and sometimes heartbreaking plotting, MY NAME IS NOT FRIDAY demonstrates the many ways in which hope can shine through the darkest circumstances.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the institution of slavery in America. How has it shaped U.S. history, and how are its ramifications felt today?
Why were enslaved workers forbidden from learning how to read? What did plantation owners think was so dangerous about their literacy?
What strategies did enslaved people use to maintain their sense of self-esteem? Why were religion and music important to so many of them?
- Author: Jon Walter
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: David Fickling Books
- Publication date: January 5, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: August 17, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love history
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