My Name's Not Friday
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Samuel always strives to be good. Living in an orphanage, he prays daily, studies hard and does all he can to keep his wild younger brother, Joshua, out of trouble. Then one day Joshua does something so terrible that Samuel knows the punishment will be excruciating, and decides to take the blame upon himself. Suddenly everything he has ever known is stripped away as he is re-named 'Friday' and sold into slavery in the deep-south during the Civil War. Thrown into a surreal situation where he is owned by a boy his own age, and where his education is seen as a threat, Samuel has to learn how to protect himself as the world around him crumbles. Two things keep him sane; his faith and his determination to get back to his brother.
This is an extraordinary book that brings an incredibly dark period of American history into sharp focus for teen readers. Samuel is a fantastic character, and one so likeable that you will find yourself emotionally invested in his survival. Set in Mississippi during the last years of the Civil War the book is drenched in the threatening atmosphere of uneasy change. It is extremely well researched, well written and gripping. Deserving of its place on the Guardian's Children's Fiction Prize 2015 longlist.