Friday the 13th is a relatively young superstition, according to some. The number 13 alone has a robust history of bad luck, perhaps originating with the “thirteen at a table” curse. Many examples of number 13’s ill effects are compiled in Stacy Conradt’s article, “Thirteen Reasons People Think the Number 13 is Unlucky.” And Friday has its own aura of bad luck. For starters, it’s believed that Adam bit the apple on a Friday, the Great Flood began on a Friday, and Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday.
At some point, the collusion of Friday and the number 13 became the pinnacle expression of bad luck – Friday the 13th. While most people acknowledge the day with the same good humor granted to ghosts on Halloween, some folks suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia (also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia,) a debilitating fear of Friday the 13th.
Personally, I find it hard to think of any Friday as bad luck. Think of the glorious rush of freedom when the last bell rings on Friday afternoon. Think of the relief of a fresh paycheck in the bank. And Friday Night football! Sorry, I’ll take my superstition to another day. Maybe go with the Greeks, who believe it’s Tuesday the 13th that brings bad luck.
Whatever we believe, Friday the 13th seems like the perfect day to look at YA books that deal with superstition.
Beatle Meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams (a 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection)
John Lennon (aka “Beatle) is a highly superstitious Australian teen who has overcome his fear of Friday the 13th enough to go out for the night. On his way home, he meets a girl, discovering that, magnificently, her name is Destiny McCartney! They felt an immediate connection and kissed for two hours on the tram. Beatle realizes that, all the signs are there – he and Destiny are meant to be together. Except that Beatle already has a perfectly nice girl friend…
Mia has always trusted in little superstitions. She wears her lucky necklace, consults a Magic 8 Ball, and makes deals with the universe along the lines of, “If the next car I see is yellow, then…” All relatively harmless, until she is diagnosed with leukemia. More than ever, Mia needs guidance. Following “signs” she receives from the lyrics of a song, Mia decides to keep her illness a secret from all her friends, save one.
Starcrossed by Mark Schreiber (a 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection)
It had to be fate, right? Christy goes to the plastic surgeon because she needs a tattoo removed; her ex-boyfriend Benjamin’s name is all over her chest. While there, she meets a guy whose name is Benjamin. He is also getting the tattooed name of his ex-girlfriend removed. Her name? Christy. Even if Christy weren’t into horoscopes and divine intervention, this would be a mighty coincidence. But she is, so she leaps into a relationship that seems destined, only to later wonder if she had misread the signs.
The winsome couple face a brutal St. Valentine’s Day when Naughty attracts an abundance of attention from the opposite sex, while Dreary… well, not so much. Originally published in 2004, this volume in the Dreary & Naughty series will be re-released on September 28, 2013. These charming books are beautiful in design and spirit. And the rhyming verses are perfect for read-alouds.
For some, Friday the 13th predominantly refers to the slasher movies featuring the infamous Jason Voorhees. Over-the-top gore barely interrupted with plot have kept generations of folks screaming their lungs out– and begging for more. Dave Lowe of the Para Abnormal comic offers this courtesy warning:
-Diane Colson, currently reading Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt and listening to The Returned by Jason Mott, narrated by Tom Stechschulte.