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Steve Woods
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The Story Of Samuel: A Novel By Jon Walter

My Name is Not Friday: A Book Review

My Name is Not Friday is a historical fiction novel by Jon Walter that tells the story of Samuel, a freeborn black boy who is sold into slavery during the American Civil War. The book explores themes of identity, freedom, family, faith, and resilience in the face of oppression and injustice.

The Story of Samuel: A Novel by Jon Walter

The book was published in 2015 and was longlisted for the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize. It has received critical acclaim from reviewers and readers alike, who praised Walters immersive narration, complex characters, and nuanced portrayal of a brutal and shameful chapter in Americas history.


Samuel and his younger brother Joshua are orphans living in a church-run home in Maryland. Samuel is an educated and well-mannered boy who has been taught by a priest. He is also a devout Christian who believes that God has a plan for him. Joshua is a mischievous and rebellious boy who often gets into trouble.

One day, Joshua accidentally shoots a white boy with a slingshot, and Samuel takes the blame to protect his brother. As a punishment, Samuel is taken away by a slave trader, who gives him a new name - Friday - and sells him to a cotton plantation in Mississippi.

There, Samuel experiences the horrors of slavery firsthand. He witnesses beatings, whippings, hangings, and burnings. He suffers from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, and pain. He also meets other slaves who have different stories and perspectives on their situation. Some are resigned to their fate, some are hopeful for freedom, some are rebellious and defiant, and some are loyal to their masters.

Samuel struggles to survive and keep his faith in God. He also tries to find his true identity and his place in the world. He wonders if he is still Samuel or if he has become Friday. He wonders if he is still free or if he has become a slave. He wonders if he will ever see his brother again or if he has lost his family forever.


My Name is Not Friday is a powerful and moving tale of freedom and identity that will appeal to readers of all ages. Walter skillfully tells the story from Samuels point of view, using authentic dialect and vivid descriptions to create a realistic and immersive setting. He also presents a large population of complex and distinctive characters who represent different aspects of the slave society.

The book does not shy away from depicting the harsh realities of slavery, but it also shows the humanity and dignity of the enslaved people. It shows how they cope with their situation through humor, music, storytelling, religion, and love. It also shows how they resist their oppression through small acts of defiance, sabotage, escape, or rebellion.

The book also explores the moral dilemmas and contradictions that slavery creates for both the slaves and the masters. It shows how slavery corrupts the values and beliefs of both groups, making them justify or rationalize their actions. It also shows how slavery affects the relationships between family members, friends, lovers, enemies, allies, and strangers.

The book is not only a historical fiction novel but also a coming-of-age story that follows Samuels growth and development as a person. Samuel learns to adapt to his new environment, to make friends and enemies, to trust and doubt, to love and hate, to hope and despair. He also learns to question his own assumptions and beliefs, to challenge his own identity and destiny, to find his own voice and agency.


My Name is Not Friday is a remarkable novel that weaves together history and humanity while confronting the elusive grays between right and wrong. It is a book that will make readers think, feel, empathize, and reflect on their own lives and choices. It is a book that will make readers see the world differently. 04f6b60f66


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