In 1965 a busload of students drove through a number of small Australian towns to protest the treatment of Aboriginal people. These events are the backdrop for Sue Lawson's Freedom Ride, a novel set in the fictional town of Walgaree, where racial tensions are high. Robbie, the novel's young protagonist, is generally obliging, but he is at an age where he must choose between remaining silent in order to fit in or sticking his neck out for what he believes is right.

Freedom Ride is set in a time and a place where indigenous locals were all but segregated – the Walgaree RSL doesn't even allow indigenous servicemen to drink at their bar – and it shines an uncomfortable spotlight on Australia's racist past. Robbie is too intimidated by his overbearing Nan and bullying classmates to protest against their racist behaviour. Then he meets Barry Gregory, who has returned to run the local caravan park. Barry gives Robbie a job working alongside Mickey, a young Aborigine. The two boys become friendly, but when news of the 'Freedom Ride' reaches Walgaree, anyone who doesn't know his place is in danger.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Freedom Ride' by Sue Lawson
  • Contents Category Children's and Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title Freedom Ride
  • Book Author Sue Lawson
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Black Dog Books, $17.95 pb, 365 pp, 9781925126365
Thursday, 27 November 2014 10:40

The Protected by Claire Zorn

Following the success of her first novel, Claire Zorn displays her remarkable talent again in The Protected. Although the books are vastly different (The Sky So Heavy [2013] is a futuristic survival thriller, while The Protected is a coming-of-age story coloured by grief), thematically they have many similarities. Zorn is adept at exploring the challenges and complexities of growing up, and the fallibility of adults.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'The Protected' by Claire Zorn
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title The Protected
  • Book Author Claire Zorn
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio University of Queensland Press, $19.95 pb, 254 pp, 9780702250194
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 13:11

Tigerfish

Ryan Lanyon sees something special in Ariel the moment he meets her. He can tell that she is out of place here, in the middle of suburbia, where the too-bright mall lights offer no real security from the dangers outside.

Ryan is an unlikely hero. Surprisingly insightful, he is the first of many characters in Tigerfish that encourage us to look beneath their rough exteriors. Ryan takes Ariel and her sister Kaydie under his wing. To him, they are exotic and fragile creatures who need to be saved. He’s not sure if he will be able to save them, but as far as he can see he is the best one for the job.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Tigerfish'
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title TIGERFISH
  • Book Author David Metzenthen
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Penguin $17.99 pb, 248 pp, 9780143568421
Monday, 30 September 2013 12:51

Cry Blue Murder

Kim Kane and Marion Roberts co-write this eerie Melbourne-based thriller seamlessly. In this story that is every parent’s worst nightmare, we see schoolgirls snatched from the middle of their routine, presumed safe, suburban life.

Celia and Alice don’t know the first girl taken or each other, but they connect on Facebook through their shared grief that this could happen to someone they have seen, played sport against, pushed past on the bus. As the two girls share emails, their friendship becomes about more than the tragedy of a missing friend and they begin to unfold their lives for each other, sharing their hopes, dreams, and secrets. But the teenage gossip always has a sinister overtone. A second girl goes missing, even closer this time. Alice or Celia could be next.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh on the new YA title: 'Cry Blue Murder'
  • Contents Category YA Fiction
  • Book Title Cry Blue Murder
  • Book Author Kim Kane and Marion Roberts
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio University of Queensland Press, $19.95 pb, 213 pp, 9780702239267

Lina is part witch, part royalty. Her existence is scorned by both the king and the powerful wizards that all but rule the bitter lands of the North. The story of her heady romance and tragic fate is the centrepiece for Alison Croggon’s latest fiction, a Gothic fantasy inspired by Wuthering Heights.

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  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Black Spring' by Alison Croggon
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title Black Spring
  • Book Author Alison Croggon
  • Biblio Walker Books, $22.95 pb, 286 pp, 9781921977480

Dystopian fiction has surged in popularity in recent years, with books like The Hunger Games (2008) among the many Young Adult titles being devoured by younger and adult readers alike. There is a danger that the sudden influx of a genre in the marketplace, and the eagerness of authors to get their books into the hands of keen readers, will lead to a drop in the quality of writing, or to more predictable plot lines. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf sets itself apart. It is a bitingly clever dystopia, highly imaginative. Where other books fall flat, this one stands out as a startling contemporary example of the dystopian genre.

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  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf' by Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
  • Book Author Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • Biblio Walker Books, $19.95 pb, 400 pp, 9781921720086

Beatrice May Ross (Bee) is a list-maker, an amateur detective, a taxidermy assistant, and a regular teenage girl. She falls in love, fights with her best friend, and hates her mother’s new boyfriend, like plenty of adolescents. But she does so while stitching together a dead koala and trying to solve the ever-developing mystery surrounding the death of her mentor.

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  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'A Pocketful of Eyes' by Lili Wilkinson
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title A Pocketful of Eyes
  • Book Author Lili Wilkinson
  • Biblio Allen & Unwin, $17.99 pb, 311 pp, 9781742376196

Damon Styles keeps a list of those who have crossed him. In a small, bully-rich town like Strathven, there are a lot of them. Damon has a plan, though, and getting his gun licence is only part of it. Next he needs to get a job with the Pigman. Nobody really knows the latter. He is foreign, shoots pigs, and keeps to himself, which is quite enough to fuel rumours in Strathven. Damon knows that the Pigman can teach him what he needs to know about implementing his plan, but he doesn’t know that the people of Strathven have a plan as well.

Additional Info

  • Free Article No
  • Custom Article Title Bec Kavanagh reviews 'Pig Boy' by J.C. Burke
  • Contents Category Young Adult Fiction
  • Book Title Pig Boy 
  • Book Author J.C. Burke
  • Biblio Random House, $18.95 pb, 336 pp, 9781741663129