Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Refuge

Academic journal article Literacy Learning: The Middle Years

Refuge

Article excerpt

Title: Refuge: Many dreams, one land

Author: Jackie French

Publisher: Angus & Robertson, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2013

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'We need to remember so we can have the courage to survive'

Faris is a 13-year-old Middle Eastern boy who dreams of Australia--golden beaches, his own bedroom, a computer, and to live with his grandmother, Jadda, and his father who has already escaped the terrible civil war in their country. As they leave their destructive existence, presumably Afghanistan but never specifically identified, Faris and Jadda end up in Indonesia where they board a boat for Australia. Tragedy awaits as their boat is monstered by a freak wave in the middle of the ocean. Next Faris wakes in his bedroom, complete with computer, and his grandmother making him breakfast downstairs. It is not until we hear of the pet koala scratching at the front door to be let in, that readers are given any clue that something is not quite right in this world.

In exploring this Australia, where kangaroos graze under orange trees, Faris meets a group of young people playing ball on the beach. They are from various times and cultures, all with one thing in common--the dream of living in Australia. As Faris gets to know each in turn, readers come to understand that Australia is not just a place, that it means something different to different people and, most importantly, that Australia is a place of refuge for those who have been forced to flee their own countries.

Jackie French has certainly taken her readers on an emotional exploration throughout this novel. She uses her beautiful language style to continually encourage readers to question their own thoughts and values around asylum seekers and, more generally, migrants to Australia. …

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