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Freedom Ride

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  65 reviews
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.
Paperback, 367 pages
Published July 1st 2015 by Black Dog Books
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  229 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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3.5 stars.

This was...yeah. It's an important book. But I think ultimately it focuses too much on the wrong thing. Because on the one hand, this is a young adult book about racism towards Indigenous Australians in the 1960s, which is EXCELLENT because it's a problem that's often overlooked and still a huge issue today. I mean, I knew NOTHING about the Freedom Ride, and I've spent the vast majority of my life in Australia.

BUT. While the book did an excellent job of showing just how racist and sm
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Gee Sue Lawson knows how to write a story that keeps you engaged. What I loved the most in this story was the main character Robbie's journey from ignorance and acceptance to awareness, disappointment, anger and action. Robbie is a gorgeous character - his descriptions of his Nan and her friends - the similes and metaphors are just delightful.

This is a really ugly period in Australian history - a story that is probably quite painful for some people to read. I know the majority of teens will cha
I do love Robbie's earnest innocence and yet, that he still struggles to stand up against his upbringing shows how human he is.

I also appreciated that the author doesn't have all the young people support the students, and not all the older generation are narrow-minded (although most of them are).

It's so hard to imagine that people acted in such ways, although observing some of the attitudes depicted today towards new immigrants means it's still a relevant topic.

Absorbing and engaging.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have always loved Sue Lawson's novels, and this is no exception. All her stories feel authentic, and the narrative flows so easily, I read this within a day. While I knew a little about discrimination in the 60s, I had no idea it was as foul as even a sliver of what's in this book -- and the characters of Nan and Frank were truly repellent. I think they were so awful because they were also very realistic; I have known people like that, and will probably come to know more, even though we're now ...more
This book is a ripper. Successfully navigating a tricky cultural path, Sue manages to convey all the confusion, anger and indignation of a young man confronting his ignorances and those of his family and town, with feeling and authenticity. In some ways, Australia has moved forward but there is still so much that is wrong. May we all have the courage and conviction of the freedom riders.
Michael Earp
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a difficult book to read because of how it is a window into our unfathomable past. Did I say past? This year is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Ride and this year our government announces plans to close rural Aboriginal communities. How far have we come?
Definitely worth reading.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very powerful book about a very ugly part of Australia's not too distant past. It should be placed in the hands of every student in the country. There isn't any swearing or drug use and only a couple of mentions of sex towards the end. Beautifully written and can be quite confronting.
Brett Orr
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read more reviews like this on my blog!

This ARC was provided by Walker Books Australia. FREEDOM RIDE will be available in stores July 2015.

When it comes to showing and discussing racial tensions in media - books, films, and television shows - there are two key points that must be kept in mind. Firstly, the prejudice, hate, segregation, bigotry, hypocrisy and atrocious living conditions of the racial minorities should never be understated. As appalling as it may seem to the modern generation that
Robbie has some awareness of what happens in Walgeree. But living with his father and overbearing Nan doesn’t really give him a greater understanding of the world. It’s not until he gets a summer job at the local caravan park with Barry – a man who’s spent time overseas and isn’t impressed with the overwhelming racism of the town – that he starts to understand how bad thing are for the local Aboriginal people. In the summer of 1965 the Freedom Riders are on their way to town and things are at bo ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If “To kill a mockingbird” is a novel that should be read by every student in the USA in order to understand the racial history of their nation then “Freedom Ride” is the Australian equivalent. That may sound like a big call but I’m making it.

“Freedom Ride” is based on real life events in Australia in 1965. It is the story of 15 year old Robbie Bower, who lives in of the town Walgaree with his Dad and his Nan. His Mum died when he was three. Robbie is a quiet boy with few friends and is often
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A great read! I remember a very sad chapter in Australia's history. Also the beginning of change. This text deserves to be studied in High school - years 8 to 10. Sue Lawson has touched my heart again!
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Unfortunately, just can't get into it, but will try again soon.
It's not you book, it's me.
Kylie Purdie
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads, cbc-2016
Here is a book that I hope becomes part of the reading syllabus in Australia. I knew the freedom ride had happened, but beyond that I knew very little about it. Given I am very interested in politics, if this was my level of knowledge, I can imagine the average person has no idea it happened at all.
Unlike the American freedom rides which were a protest movement, the Australian ride was about information gathering and exposing the often appalling treatment and conditions of indigenous Australians
Sandra Shannon
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A thought-provoking young adult novel. Set in a small country town in New South Wales and based on factual events. The time is when 1964 is drawing to an end. The predominantly white community exercise extreme racism and exclusion towards the people living in the aboriginal missions. Robbie is the main character and his life changes when he starts working for Barry Gregory who believes in a fair go for all. The simmering hostilities in the town boil over when the Freedom Ride bus comes to town t ...more
Jane Milton
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nice pace, likeable protagonist, really interesting historical context. The backdrop of racial segregation in Australia before the 1967 referendum is something we should all know about. Would be great for kids in year 8, very accessible (although over 300 pages, it's an easy read). Must qualify 4 star rating as YA rating only. As in, it's not a 4 star for me as an actual book I'd choose. My main criticism is that it's told from the perspective of a white character. I know the double narration ha ...more
Alicia Papp
This story was a little too earnest and worthy at times, but still a great look back at the entrenched racism rife in Australia, and the stirring of a student movement that helped to shift that and bring about legislative and culture change. Still a long way to go though. Couldn't help but notice that the majority of adults were irredeemably bad and caricatures, and Robbie just so helpless in the face of adult authority - but that is the way it was back then. An excellent starting point for anyo ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book that shares an important event in Australian history with readers aged 12+. The story was confronting at times, with the blatant racism of many of the residents of the town expressed verbally and through violence. It is nevertheless important for us to remember that Australia experienced racism in this way - segregation, violence, verbal and physical abuse - in our not too distant past.

A wonderful book to start conversations with teens about modern Australian history.
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great book that tackles a particularly racism that was occurring in the 60s with the treatment of the aboriginal people. The story follows Robbie and his growing understanding of the issues in the country town in which he lives. Although fictional it is based on true events of the trip university students made through country NSW to highlight the issues facing aboriginal people. It is an engaging read.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great read for any High School Library and it should be on all Australian schools reading lists. Sue Lawson uses historical events to place her story in an Australian country town in the 1960's. She tells the story of our history that many people would rather forget and many people still cannot accept. However the writing and story development is well constructed and has a satisfactory simple fictional ending.
Justine Knott
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful young adult novel which is reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. The story is engaging and the teenage protagonist is easy to relate to. Whilst set in the context of ‘issues’ of discrimination and bigotry, the story is about family, trauma and loss. A poignant picture of the pain and freedom experienced in the process of becoming an adult. A must read for young people.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Story of a teen facing moral dilemmas around race, loyalty etc. Great dialogue- a good amount of challenging vocab. Also a balance of being gritty but also really positive in terms of the pursuit of justice and integrity along the way. Would be great to teach!
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Year 8 and 9
A great read about a boy who doesn't feel right about the racism in his small town. He doesn't even feel comfortable about his dad and gran's attitudes. A story about friendship, loyalty and being an outsider to the norm.
Katey Allwell
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a fantastic read! I'm backing it to win the CBCA young adult prize. It was so we'll written I just couldn't put it down. The book provide such a great insight into the cultural climate of the time. It made me long for hot summer days and caravan park camping on the river.
Feb 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: school, 2016
I had to read for school
Julie Garner
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read about some of Australia's history. I didn't realise how recent colour segregation existed within our country. Seeing it through Robbie's eyes brings it all into perspective.
Monica Librarian
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
year7 set text, ok
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought I should read this book because the author, Sue Lawson, was coming to our school to speak. I'm so glad I did! Not only was it a valuable lesson on Australian history (the treatment of Aboriginal Australians in the 1960's) it was a great read. Sue Lawson makes all her characters come to life in a way that makes the story so readable, believable and enjoyable. The main character Robbie, lives with his father (who is there physically but otherwise absent) and his Nan, (who is over bearing ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I had trouble deciding on a rating for this book and all because of the first sentence: "Sunlight reflected off house windows into my eyes and sweat pooled on the top of my undie elastic." - URGH! Seriously if this novel hadn't been short listed for the Children's Book Council Of Australia 'Book of the Year: Older Readers' award, and I didn't have to read it for work I would not have progressed past that line. I seriously can not recall an opening sentence that turned me away from a book as much ...more
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Freedom Ride was personally an eye-opening and confronting read which definitely raised some of my own questions about Australia’s history. Though at first the novel was hard to get into, in the end I would conclude that it was well worth it.

It was primarily a book centred around racism in 1960’s Australia and the negative prejudices that Aboriginal people faced back then. Lawson did an amazing job at creating the 60’s outback small town Australia setting as well as revealing confronting topics
Mistress Bast
This was one of those books I put on my "ought to read" list, then I listened to Sue Lawson talking about it, and it went on my "want to read" list. But I still wasn't hugely enthusiastic. Then I read the first chapter....

Robbie is a great character, you could understand his teen confusion, but at the same time he avoided being a whiny character as many teen characters seem to be. I also loved how easily I could slip into the world of 1965 rural Australia. The lino in the kitchen, the screen doo
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Sue Lawson is an award winning young adult and junior fiction author, with a passion for
young people, writing and reading. Her books are recognized for the sensitive way they
explore the exciting and heartbreaking complexities of adolescence.
A former teacher, Sue has also worked for both ABC and commercial stations and currently
works part time for Geelong's BAY FM.
Her book Pan’s Whisper was shortli
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