This book was really popular when I was a kid. We loved the premise: thirteen year old Annabel wakes up to find she has switched bodies with her mother, and has to make it through her mother’s day. The mother, in Annabel’s body, plays hookey from school and makes over her daughter’s life. Various complications occur with a neighbor boy named Boris who has trouble with his adenoids so it turns out his name has actually been “Morris” all this time (but the “beatloaf” he offers to make for dinner turns out to actually be . . . a beetloaf).
It’s the switching-places premise again, which is always fun (see my review of The Kellyhorns). Freaky Friday is based pretty directly on a 19th century adult novel, Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers, but it was the first exposure most of us in the ’70’s had to this idea, aside from a brief episode in The Horse and His Boy.
I’m just surprised none of us (not to mention the librarians) noticed how this book goes horribly, horribly wrong.
Annabel starts the day by vamping her own father, a situation that could easily have resulted in a morning quickie but thankfully the father is too tired and grumpy to take the bait. After everyone leaves she slouches around the house in a negligee and watches TV, and when Boris shows up she tries to vamp him. Apparently Annabel’s mother is a MILF because Boris likes it quite a lot.
Then she goes out and buys gin. While she’s out she sees her little brother lost on the streets of New York City because she (as the mother) forgot to pick him up from the school bus. So she tries to sneak away. She only takes him home with her because a crowd has gathered and he’s calling her “mommy.”
About two-thirds of the way through, it dawns on the alert reader that this book is supposed to be funny.
Meanwhile, the mother takes it upon herself to change everything about her daughter she doesn’t like, including cutting her hair (which Annabel has expressedly said she doesn’t want to do) and buying her all-new clothes without her consultation. When she returns she is so beautiful — this day was also coincidentally the day for Annabel to get her braces off — that Boris doesn’t recognize her and describes her as a “beautiful chick.” Annabel is so thrilled to have Boris’s attention that she’s glad her mother has turned her into someone she isn’t.
Oh, and the writing is just terrible.