Review Blog

Nov 14 2016

Frieda by Marianne Musgrove

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A New Australian series. Scholastic (Omnibus) 2106. ISBN 9781742991146
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Historical fiction, War, Prejudice, Concentration camp, South Australia, Unley. When twelve year old Frieda arrives at Adelaide from Germany she sees racism at first hand when the surgeon on the ship questions the admittance of Chinese people to the town. She puts it out of her mind as the family sets up their pharmacy business in Unley, busies itself with settling in and decides which school Frieda should go to. But later she and her family are subjected to ugliness when war is declared between Britain and Germany, necessitating their new home, Australia, to come to Britain's aid, an enemy of the country they left.
The brutality of life for German settlers in South Australia during war is told fervently by Musgrove in this fine historical novel, as it shows the abhorrent treatment of all of the family at the hands of ignorance. Frieda is taunted, her family's business suffers and is eventually sold, and worst of all, her father and uncle are taken to the concentration camp on Torrens Island. Here not only recent arrivals from Germany are kept, but also those who have been in the country for generations. South Australia could count one in ten of its citizens having a German background, so the racism that developed targeted many people.
A recent exhibition at the Migration Museum in Adelaide showed photos and memorabilia from that camp, and Musgrove has used the artifacts shown there to make her story sing with authenticity.
With our government still putting people into camps, the book helps to question the veracity of such treatment and readers will compare the incarceration of Germans during both world wars with those refugees making their way to this country in search of a better life.
A great tale, showing the good and bad sides of racism, well told with a background that informs as well as entertains, makes this a must have for school libraries, and I am sure a class set will be bought, supported by teacher notes from the website. One in the excellent series of books from Scholastic, A New Australian, the others will be looked for when this book is read.
Fran Knight

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