A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
My Name Is Not Friday presents a nuanced picture of life as an enslaved worker in the later years of the Civil War. It describes day-to-day life on a failing plantation and raises questions of how to survive injustice with your dignity intact.
Every human being is worthy of respect, and none should be bought, sold, or owned. Literacy is a powerful force for change. Perseverance brings you closer to your goals.
Positive Role Models
Samuel is a conscientious student, but he takes the blame for the misdeeds of his younger brother, Joshua. Once they are separated, he never gives up on his quest to be reunited. Samuel learns to survive as an enslaved worker but never betrays his essential dignity.
Violence & Scariness
Set during an especially violent time, My Name Is Not Friday has scenes of violence, but most are understated. An African American man is whipped by a White woman; he's shackled in chains that rub his feet raw, and he later sustains a gunshot wound. A teen character is shot and killed in front of Samuel. Boys use a gun to escape a trader of enslaved people. A major character is disfigured in an explosion.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Samuel eventually understands that a pretty enslaved girl earns a higher price at auction because she's expected to have sex with her enslaver.
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Characters sometimes curse. "Hell," "ass," "bastard," "damn," "son of a bitch," and "s--t" 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 want slavery to continue.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The enslaved workers receive a ration of alcohol at Thanksgiving.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.