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Freedom Ride

by Sue Lawson

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243862,444 (4.33)1
Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it's nothing to do with him. That's just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree's way will blow things apart. It's time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.… (more)
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Cultural warning: this post contains the names of an Indigenous person who has died.



I don't often read YA novels, but I picked this one up because it's the only fiction I've ever seen that deals with the 1965 Freedom Ride in Australia.

As you can see in more detail at the AIATSIS website, this Freedom Ride led by the Indigenous activist Charlie Perkins (1936-2000) was a significant event in Australia's Black History.
In 1965, a group of students from the University of Sydney drew national and international attention to the appalling living conditions of Aboriginal people and the racism that was rife in New South Wales country towns. Known as the Freedom Ride, this 15-day bus journey through regional New South Wales would become a defining moment in Australian activism.
Sue Lawson's Freedom Ride was a nominee for significant prizes in 2016: the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers; the NSW Premier's Young People's History Prize and the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature; and the WA Premier's Book Awards. The novel has a continuing place in ensuring the event is not forgotten, but it also has a continuing relevance today,

Because before long, all Australians will be voting in a referendum that calls for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. And there will be pockets of Australia that will be resistant to that change.

Lawson is not Indigenous, but her novel asks the question, what was it like to be an ordinary white boy living in a blatantly racist community and to confront your own unthinking acceptance of it? What was it like to see racism expressed openly — and publicly — by your own family and friends and even the girl you fancy? What was it like to overcome your own hesitancy and fear to stand up for what is right, knowing that you are in a vulnerable minority? This novel is powerful because it's based on documentary records of the time (including the diary of Freedom Rider Ann Curthoys) but the focus is not so much the protest as an external catalyst for change but on the process of change from within.

Freedom Ride shows just how difficult it was for any locals to confront the prevailing racism. It doesn't do this to make readers feel sorry for them; it shows the entrenched racism that anyone of good will was up against.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2022/07/16/freedom-ride-by-sue-lawson/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 15, 2022 |
Sue Lawson certainly knows how to write a book that keeps the reader engaged. I was not particularly keen to read "Freedom Ride" but once I started I couldn't put it down. I loved the main protagonist, Robbie. I enjoyed following his journey as he went from ignorance to acceptance to confusion to anger and finally to action. Focusing on racial discrimination in a small, rural town the author has managed to bring an ugly period in Australia's history alive, capturing the hatred, prejudice, hypocrisy and segregation perfectly. A great read. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Robbie knows bad things happen in Walgaree. But it's nothing to do with him. That's just the way the Aborigines have always been treated. In the summer of 1965 racial tensions in the town are at boiling point, and something headed Walgaree's way will blow things apart. It's time for Robbie to take a stand. Nothing will ever be the same.

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