Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Annabel Andrews is the thirteen-year-old daughter of Ellen and Bill Andrews and the sister of Ben, whom she calls "Ape Face." She has brown hair, brown eyes, and braces. One Friday morning in February, Annabel wakes up to discover that she is in her mother's body.
With two movies made based on this book, most of you probably know the basics. However, as with so many things, the secret is in the execution. And as someone who has seen all of the first movie and quite a bit of the second, I have a hard time imagining an execution better than the one that Rodgers provides. The wit that Annabel uses as she learns more about herself by seeing the world through the eyes of those around her makes this book one of my very favorites since the first time I read it, which was soon after the Jodie Foster/Barbara Harris movie came out, which means that it must have been 1976 or thereabouts.
"Freaky Friday" is, unlike the first movie, not an extravaganza of chase scenes and water-skiing, nor, like the second, is Annabel in a rock band. Rather, the book is a tale of family and domestic adventure that covers only about ten or eleven hours of one particular Friday. Running late to pick Ape Face up from the bus stop probably would not make for the kind of action scenes that sell a lot of movie tickets. However domestic the events are, they have huge implications for Annabel.
As I have said before, the entire point of this book is to show the way that seeing her life through the eyes of others changes Annabel. As I began my traditional reread, however, I was reminded that this book is written in the past tense, after Annabel has gone through the changes that happen to her through the book. Starting out with what sounds to me like the voice of pre-change Annabel actually made me stop and think why Annabel would still be thinking about things that way. I might be overthinking it a little, though.
There is also one plothole that has bothered me since I was a child. Why is Boris at home if he is only 14? Shouldn't he be in school? I thought at first that maybe he was home sick, since he is so congested. However, he is congested nearly all the time. If the book were written today, I would think that maybe he's homeschooled, but homeschooling really wasn't so prominent in the early 1970s as it is today. Though if he was sick, some of the events, such as Annabel having Boris babysit Ape Face, wouldn't make sense. So I guess I'm back to the "Boris is homeschooled" theory. In light of one of the revelations of the book, that really is the only thing that makes sense.
I now own two copies of "Freaky Friday," because I could not find the copy that I bought in the late 1970s. Since this is one of my favorite books anyway, I figured that it couldn't hurt to get another copy. When I opened my new copy, however, it says that they edited it in 2009. I worried at first, thinking that they gave Ellen a job, or gave Annabel a cell phone, or something else that would make significant changes to the book, or even minor changes, like replacing the now-outdated reference to Jacqueline Onassis with a reference to Hillary Clinton (or even Michelle Obama). There are a few small changes, but nothing truly "updating" that I could notice. Even most of the things that date the book, such as the reference to phosphate-free detergent, are still there. However, there are a few lines that changed and it seems that they made some of the things, such as the language used by someone in the crowd during the scene I mentioned above, where Annabel is late picking Ape Face up from the bus stop, a little more hard-edged. I wonder, though, if the version I had in the 1970s was the original text or if they cleaned it up for release through the Scholastic Books book fair program (which is where I bought mine). What this amounts to, of course, is that far from avoiding the task of figuring out where on Earth that book could be, it is now imperative that I figure out where on Earth that book could be.