Friday Barnes: Bitter Enemies
R. A. Spratt
Random House Australia, 2017
254pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99
Friday Barnes is the daughter of two highly-intelligent, eccentric physicists who are so disconnected from her upbringing that they called her Friday even though she was born on a Thursday. She did have four siblings, all much older than her being born during the four-and-a-half years their mother had allocated for the task. Friday was not scheduled and her birth was fitted in around a lecture her mother had to give in Switzerland. Eleven years later, Friday had largely raised herself and she was happy with that. Her greatest wish was to be unnoticed because you could do so much more that way like eating a whole block of chocolate at once without it being taken off you. Unfortunately, it also means that you do not develop very good social skills particularly if you spend your time reading scientific tomes and educating yourself beyond the realms of anything a school could offer.
However, as well as the non-fiction her parents library consisted of, Friday had a penchant for detective novels because “being a detective allowed a person a licence to behave very eccentrically indeed” and she had honed her powers of observation and logical thought over the years. But the time has now come for Friday to go to high school and given her parents haven’t even realised she is no longer in preschool, it was up to her to sort it. She would have preferred not to go at all because she saw it as being all about “bullying, dodge ball and having to find a date for the prom” but the government was insistent that she do. She tried to compromise by applying for university and passed the exam to study medicine but was knocked back on her age.
So rejecting the idea of the Foreign Legion, the Peace Corps and being smuggled out of the country by people traffickers, after helping her ex-cop, private investigator Uncle Bernie solve a case she finds herself with the means to send herself to Highcrest Academy the best and most expensive boarding school in the whole country. Her intention is to stay under the radar, do what she has to do and leave. But things do not work out that way. But right from the start, her nondescript self-imposed uniform of brown cardigans, grey t-shirts and blue jeans makes her stand out among the fashion parade that is the elite, wealthy students who also attend the school.
And so, in this the seventh episode in the series, Friday is well-known to all at the school , either having got them into trouble or out of it at some stage.
But all is not well at Highcrest Academy because it is the start of the new academic year and Friday is not there. She has been whisked off to a school in Switzerland by her parents leaving best friend Melanie and “boyfriend” Ian bereft and bewildered. How will they get through the year?
Luckily for them, Friday does turn up and all are immediately embroiled in a new adventure as the school celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of its founder Sebastian Dowell, and as part of the celebrations four previous principals return, each with very different ideas and plans.
Miss 11 had this series at the top of her reading wishlist for Santa this year as she has discovered a character not too unlike herself – intelligent, quirky, and a bit different from her peers but very comfortable in her own skin, yet deep down wanting to be just like them – and is eagerly reading her way through the earlier episodes. She will be thrilled to see #7 in her Santa Sack and know that #8 Never Fear will be out in time for those long January days.