My Name Is Not Friday by Jon Walter [in School Library Journal]
Samuel, almost 13, and his younger brother Joshua are orphans but born free and growing up educated. During the Civil War’s final year, Samuel takes the blame for mischief that he’s convinced that Joshua committed, and finds himself betrayed by the priest who has raised him. He’s stripped of everything familiar and renamed Friday – for the day he’s auctioned off as a plantation slave.
As much as he suffers and witnesses the degrading abuse of others, Samuel shares moments of deep connection with fellow slaves and even with the young master. Throughout his captivity, Samuel never stops making good-behavior bargains with God to keep Joshua safe until their promised reunion.
British author Jon Walter’s second remarkable novel arrives from across the pond to entertain, enlighten, and inspire stateside readers about their own American past. Narrator Dion Graham elevates the written word with a mesmerizing performance.
Verdict: A multilayered epic that weaves together history and humanity while confronting the elusive grays between right and wrong, this work proves to be a significant, resonating addition to the Civil War canon for middle grade audiences.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult