Freedom Ride by Sue Lawson

Freedom Ride from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

Set in 1965 rural Australia, Freedom Ride tells the story of Robbie, a fifteen-year-old boy. Robbie has always accepted what was told to him about Aboriginals. For the summer he takes a job at the caravan park working alongside an Aborigine and he begins to question what he believed to be true.

Freedom Ride is an evocative piece of historical fiction detailing the plight of Aborigines in the 1960s. It also explores themes related to the personal cost of silence and the public cost of speaking out.

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Age recommendation: 12+

A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

A Single Stone from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

Meg McKinlay creates a stunning and original world in A Single Stone. Jena is the leader of a group of girls who must harvest mica from deep in the mountain. Mica is pivotal to their survival. Jena discovers information that makes her question the authorities. and the very way they live their lives. A Single Stone is compelling, original and fun. I felt it floundered just a little at the end, or maybe I just wanted it to keep going.

Age recommendation: 12+

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One by Sarah Crossan

One from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

Written in verse One tells the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi. As finances get tight Grace and Tippi are forced to attend school for the first time. This opens them up to not only staring, looks of disgust and awkward questions but also to opportunities of friendship.

One is written from Grace’s perspective and dialogue is limited, restricting the points of view that we are privy to. As it’s written in verse each word seems to take on extra gravity and is able to be savoured. Students shouldn’t be intimidated by the verse as it is quite easy to read and follow what is happening.

Age recommendation: 12+

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My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

My Sister Rosa from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

My Sister Rosa is a psychological thriller. It is both compelling and disturbing. Seventeen-year-old Che just wants a normal life, instead he has a sister, Rosa. Che knows Rosa isn’t normal and he feels the responsibility to protect others from her psychopathic tendencies. This novel raises ethical questions about what makes us who we are, what responsibilities are ours to own, and what lengths we should go to to protect others at the expense of our family.

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Age recommendation: 14+

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Cloudwish from Michelle McRae on Vimeo.

V’an U’oc is a first generation Vietnamese-Australian determined to skate through school without attracting any attention. She makes a wish that Billy Gardiner will notice her and her life begins to change. What raises Cloudwish above typical YA romance novels is the depiction of life as a Vietnamese- Australian teenager. V’an U’oc is living with the pressure of having to succeed, living with parents who don’t understand either English or the culture they find themselves in, and living with a much lower family income than her peers at the elite school that she has a scholarship to. The discussion of these issues are the standout moments of the book.

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Age recommendation: 12+