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Blue Like Friday by Siobhan Parkinson

Posted by Sherry on 6/6/2008 in 2008, Children's Fiction, General |

Book #1 for Mother Reader’s 48-Hour Reading Challenge.

Synesthesia: a neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. In other words, people with synesthesia, synesthetes, hear colors, or associate certain smells with days of the week or with numbers.

I picked up this book at the library because it was published in 2008 and because it was about a synesthete. Unfortunately, although it starts out well, and the ending is very nice, the in-between part is a bit lacking in plot, action, and believability. American kids would notice all the British terms, although in this case it’s Irish because the book is set in Ireland. So the narrator Olivia, whose age I never did get, talks about biscuits (cookies) and having a lie-in (sleeping late) and going to the Garda station (police station). It’s a bit of a problem that I never could figure out how old Olivia and her friend Hal are; it makes a difference to the plot, what there is of it. She’s younger than fifteen because she says her older brother is fifteen.

Anyway, the book isn’t about synesthesia; it’s more about stepfathers and wierdness and, I suppose, about growing up. It reminds me of the Casson family books by Hilary McKay, but not as good. Still, I think maybe a fan of those books would enjoy Blue Like Friday. Clever Olivia definitely has her moments:

“I began to hallucinate about food. I could see mounds of mash and great big troughs of porridge and a whole gingerbread house, just waiting to gobbled and chomped and munched and swallowed.”
Been there, done that.

“I don’t know. Parents have the weirdest attitudes to their own rules. It’s like house arrest not applying to going to church. When I grow up, I will be more consistent.”
And have I ever heard that one before! My urchins are going to correct all my parenting mistakes when they have their own kids.

Hal went paler than pale. I thought, if he goes any paler, I am going to be able to see through his skin and see all his bones and veins and everything, with all the blood pumping around. He really doesn’t like the police. Anyone’d think he was a criminal or something.

So, Blue Like Friday has a droll narrator of undetermined age, a synesthete whose synesthesia doesn’t affect the story, and some mildly comic mix-ups that don’t really amount to much. Oh, and there’s a major plot element that involves a mother doing something that most mothers would never resort to doing.

OK, but nothing to write home about.

By the way, I never have known, although I’ve seen the name before. How do you pronounce “Siobhan”?

1 Comment

  • Laura says:

    “Shivonne” or “Shavonne” according to my Irish Baby Names book. Years ago we thought about using Irish names with the Gaelic spelling for our children, but decided against it.

    I picked that book up to read, but never got to it. Thanks for reviewing it.

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