In Freaky Friday, Mary Rodgers creates a scenario featuring a young, upscale, two-parent, two-child, one-income household in a city apartment, complete with dog, housekeeper, and upstairs neighbors. This “perfect family” does not match many teenager’s home situations and instead portrays an ideal situation.

Rodgers displays an uncanny ability to create believable teenage dialogue that does not sound as if it has been filtered through an adult mind. Her writing style—unstilted, natural, and gently humorous—appeals to her readers’ sense of the ridiculous without ridiculing her young protagonist. The plot plays to her young readers’ sense of the fantastic, yet it seems strangely realistic and reasonable. Although the reader never knows by what magic the exchange of mother and daughter occurs, the story as it unfolds needs no explanation. The final plot twist reveals that Freaky Friday is the English term paper that Annabel had not finished.

Freaky Friday quietly sketches some of the real concerns of parents and teachers, such as untapped potential, adolescent misconceptions about adult roles, and the necessity of challenging minds such as Annabel’s. At the same time, the novel provides a fascinating glimpse into the thirteen-year-old female mind. Almost any budding teenage girl could be Annabel, complete with crush, braces, a pesky sibling, and self-doubt.

Freaky Friday percolates...

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