Author: Diane Hammond
Genre: general fiction
Series: Max L. Biedelman Zoo #2
Published: October 2013
Source: TLC Book Tours for Review
It's been three years since Hannah the elephant departed the Max L. Biedelman Zoo, and life is blissfully quiet for her friends in Bladenham. Sam has retired, Neva manages a doggie day care, Harriet Saul has been fired, and newly-minted lawyer Truman Levy has been recruited to replace her as the zoo's executive director.
Then Truman's aunt, an eccentric heiress looking for a pet project, finds just the thing: a killer whale stranded in Colombia who desperately needs a new home. With the help of marine mammal expert Gabriel Jump, she strong-arms Truman into repurposing the zoo's never-used porpoise pool for Friday's rehabilitation. Under Gabriel's watchful eye, and with a team of dedicated helpers, Friday begins to revive.
But not everyone believes that Friday should remain in captivity. And before Truman knows what to do about it, the Max L. Biedelman Zoo is under national scrutiny-- and controversy-- and Friday's fate may no longer remain in their hands.
This is not the type of book I usually read. I stay away from animal fiction because usually I am too weak to deal with their (usual) death at the end. However, this story about the rescue of a male killer whale intrigued me. Though obviously inspired by the author's close knowledge of the life of the famous Keiko, this heartwarming story about the love between species is original and wholly readable.
Though Friday's Harbor is the second in a series centered around a zoo, it can be read completely as a standalone. Some characters from the first are shown in the second, but the story is fully independent of what happened in Hannah's Dream. The story of how an electic and eccentric group of people worked together to save the life of a sickened and weak 18 year old whale is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's a feel-good story that manages to pull on emotions while still taking pains to show how badly off captivity can be for animals.
Viernes (later Anglicized to Friday once in America) life bares a striking resemblance to that of the world's most famous orca --- Willy from Free Willy. Though Friday is fictional, the parallels between the two are obvious. Both Keiko and Friday languished in pools too small for them for at least 16 years, Keiko in Mexico and Friday in Colombia. Both are immense media sensations and the subject for fervent debate about the merits of zoo captivity.
Most of the novel is centered around Friday and his move and eventual rehabilitation, but a significant portion of it is subtly concerned with fostering debate about animal capture and captivity. The author takes pains to show both sides of the debate and never firmly comes down on either side of the fence. It's a smart move on her part and allows readers to read Friday's story and then consider the implications of it on real life animals.
Diane Hammond's Friday's Harbor is a perfect rainy day read. It's full of quiet emotion and human-animal bonds. If you're a dog person, or a cat person, or any kind of animal-person, there will be a lot to relate to in Friday's story.