Friction

Once I started reading this novel, I was hooked. Carried along by the immediacy of the present-tense narration, I found myself at once identifying with the characters and their dilemmas. Frank is a skilful writer who knows just how much to say and how much to leave unsaid. Her style is never complicated or fussy but instead has the sort of subtle poetic power that comes from perfectly timed and perfectly placed words.

At a time when the value of young adult fiction is being called into question, Friction is a necessary reminder of how immensely powerful good teen fiction can be. Unlike many contemporary works in this genre, which tend to present the events in the story from one point of view (that of the protagonist), Friction is a novel that tells several stories at the same time (quite a feat given that the whole story is recounted in the first person).

The book deals with the events that happen after a new girl arrives at Alex’s school and accuses Alex of having a crush on her teacher, Simon. It came as no surprise to discover, upon concluding the book, that Frank is a social worker. As well as showing a real insight into the reality of life for the young, the novel reveals a deep understanding of the complexities inherent in social interaction. To talk about the story would be to simplify what is by no means a simple plot. Suffice it to say that I have never seen the delicate issue of child sexual abuse so expertly and tenderly handled.