Freedom Ride by Sue Lawson
Walker Books, 2015. ISBN 9781925126365
Recommended age: 8-12 years. Sue Lawson examines the racial tensions of 1965 in Freedom Ride. Written for an 8-12 year old audience, it is set in the fictional town of Walgaree. For young Robbie, life is bleak living as he does with his nagging grandmother and silent father . . . doing all the jobs around the house for his grandmother and when that's done, for all her friends too. His father ignores him most of the time, although he's surprisingly supportive of Robbie's holiday job at the Walgaree Caravan Park. Much is written about Robbie's work experience at the park, and of his budding friendship with the owners - all of which might hold the key to Robbie's freedom.
Soon however, trouble comes to Walgaree: broken windows at the Station school and a fight at the waterhole results in the Aboriginal children getting the blame. However, a handful of white townie kids know the truth is a different story. Then, to cap it all off, Barry, Robbie's employer, takes on another helper - Micky, the young Aborigine accused of attacking one of the local white lads. When a death near the Station is 'covered up' and the freedom riders come to town things reach boiling point. How will things sort out for Robbie who already has issues with his father and grandmother, and yet he puts his neck on the line to defend his Aboriginal friend Micky?
Freedom Ride is a work of fiction based on true events and introduces young readers to the racial tensions of the 'mid-60's. In Australia the Freedom Ride movement (Student Action for Aborigines: SAFA) loosely based on the American Freedom Ride movement of the early '60's, was initiated by a group of Sydney University students. Attracting much national and international media attention, SAFA achieved much in its short life, and this novel brings the history of that era to modern young Australians.