Reviews for Blue Like Friday

Booklist Reviews 2008 March #1
Irish tweens Olivia and Hal are best friends and as different as chalk and cheese. Opinionated Olivia is a total pragmatist, while dreamy synesthesic Hal associates things with colors and tastes. Hal comes up with a plan to make his mother's boyfriend move out of their home and his life, but he only succeeds in driving his mother away. In trying to undo this error, he and Olivia meet a sympathetic young police officer, who tells Hal about a ritual that Hal hopes will help him find peace with his absent father. Olivia's decisive narrative voice carries the character-driven plot and adds a wonderful note of quirkiness to what could have been an overly sentimental ending. Parkinson creates a warm, moving story of real families facing real problems, while avoiding the pitfalls of formulaic problem novels. The economy of her prose is admirable; all characters are well drawn and developed in this compact, satisfying read. A glossary of Irish words and cultural references will aid American readers. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #2
In this surprisingly funny novel about family, friendship, and death, outgoing Olivia helps her quiet friend Hal with his plan to drive away Alec, his almost-stepfather. Their attempt -- involving prank calls and mortuaries -- misfires and results (they think) in driving away Hal's mother instead; but it turns out that his mum has her own plan, to bring Hal and Alec together. By the end, her tactic is a smashing success and also unintentionally allows Hal to find a meaningful way to say goodbye to his father, who died when Hal was five. Although logical Olivia is often irritated by Hal's oddball way of viewing the world (his synesthesia causes him to associate words with color and taste), her own singular personality comes through in her narration, in which she speaks directly to readers ("I bet you've been wondering when I'm going to get back to the kite. I didn't know you were so interested in kites. Maybe you weren't, but now you are because I have made it sound interesting"). Parkinson, whose Something Invisible (rev. 5/06) and Second Fiddle (rev. 3/07) featured children whose fathers were dead or otherwise absent, has her own inimitable ability to sensitively and authentically depict young survivors as they move beyond devastating loss. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 February #1
In a hilarious, dryly solemn voice, Olivia tells of her friend Hal's attempt to get rid of his "sort-of stepfather." Placing a pebble in each of Alec's shoes nightly doesn't make "Him" leave. So Hal anonymously hires Alec to paint the hospital mortuary (triple pay rates for the weekend). Alec takes the bait, inducing a huge row between Alec and Hal's mother, who's expecting Alec to attend her golf competition. Hal and Olivia trail Alec to the job--but Alec never emerges, and a flashing police car enters. Has Alec been arrested? A cautious visit to the police station implies not, but then Hal's mother truly does disappear for days. This mellow Irish town is the perfect setting for Parkinson's plot, which is funny and serious at the same time. Practical Olivia sometimes rolls her eyes at peculiar Hal, especially his synesthesia (Friday is "tangy . . . sort of lemony, only sweet, like lemon sherbet"), but the two are well-suited. The whereabouts of Hal's missing mother may provoke vehement opinions. Deftly painful and sweet, never sentimental. (glossary) (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 March #4

Like a funny cousin of Siobhan Dowd's The London Eye Mystery (Reviews, Dec. 3, 2007), this Irish novel introduces a boy whose thinking runs on its own idiosyncratic track, in his case because he has synaesthesia. In the opening lines, narrator Olivia is explaining to her best friend that blue is a bad color for a kite: "Think about it.... Where does a kite spend its time?" Hal refuses to answer, and later counters that the kite must be blue because Friday is "a light pretty blue. With frills." The exchange sets the stage for the type of logic--and the dynamic--that guide these two friends as they pull a mean prank on Alec, Hal's mother's live-in boyfriend--never guessing that Hal's mother is one step ahead of them the whole time, with a plan of her own to help Hal come to terms with his father's death years ago and with Alec's presence. Parkinson (Something Invisible ) knows how to bring together the comic and heartbreaking without ever manipulating readers, and her characters have a full dose of humanity at their disposal. Memorable, wise and thoroughly entertaining. Ages 11-14. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 June

Gr 4-6-- Olivia's friend Hal wants his widowed mother to break off her engagement. He misses his father desperately and finds his mother's fianc, Alec, a poor replacement. Olivia helps Hal to concoct a plan that will make his mom mad at Alec. The real result of the prank, however, is that Hal's mom disappears for five days, which the boy finally realizes is an attempt to force him and his prospective stepfather to get along. Her trick works, and the novel ends in a case of "happily-ever-after." A compelling element that is not explored enough is Hal's synesthesia, a neurological condition that causes him to interconnect color, smell, and taste. Olivia's first-person narrative is often funny and conveys the suspense and mystery regarding Hal's mother's whereabouts, but the story is too quickly wrapped up and doesn't address the emotional aftermath of the mother's scheme. A glossary illustrates Irish language and cultural terms used in the novel, an enjoyable element.--Marie C. Hansen, New York Public Library

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