Girl Zone Book Club: ‘Refuge’ Discussion Questions’

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Girl Zone Book Club: ‘Refuge’ Discussion Questions’

‘Refuge’ by Jackie French is the novel we have just read for Year Six Girl Zone Book Club. My full review of this novel can be read here. 

Some discussion questions based on teachers notes by Dr Robyn Sheahan-Bright, sourced here. Download these excellent Teacher’s Notes for further study of ‘Refuge’.

Jakie French - Refuge

‘Refuge’ Discussion Questions

Apart from Faris, which characters do you consider central to the narrative? Which of the main characters did you find the most appealing and why?

How would you feel if you arrived in Australia with no English, no money, no one to call, no understanding of local laws and customs? Your parents would have to find any work at all, even if they are highly skilled professionals. How would your family cope in such a situation? What steps would need to be taken first?

Thinking about the discussion point above, do you have any idea about what does happen in these situations in Australia? What services are in place?

The immigration of most of the children in this novel was provoked by either conflicts or persecution. What did you learn about the influence of war on people’s lives from reading this novel?

Susannah says to Faris: ‘Why is there such a terrible lot of hating in the world? Why do we hate so much that we try to kill those who aren’t like us?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Sometimes I’m thinking that we need to love more. That is enough of us do good things it might balance out the hate.’ (p121)

Do you believe individuals can make a difference? What might you do to encourage peace, empathy and understanding on a national or global scale? Can you think of any young people who have made a difference?

Jamila lived under the rule of the Taliban and her dream Australian world was a ‘city of women’. How would it be to live in a society where women were not allowed access to education, and had to submit all their rights and power to men?

The novel is a combination of realism and fantasy. How did you find this worked for you as a reader? Did you enjoy the combination or did it leave you feeling a little confused? Have you read anything like this before? Discuss how the time slip or dream device was used to develop the theme of Faris and the other children becoming strong enough to survive their challenges in the real world.

The experiences of the characters in this novel are based on real experiences of people – fact and fiction have been combined to create a work of ‘faction’. Did you enjoy the fictional or factual elements of the story or the combination of both?

Hatred is contagious, but so is kindness. Sometimes being good to others – as a nation, or as individuals – can be as powerful as guns. Jackie French

Discuss Jackie’s comments about kindness. Is our society one which encourages kindness?

Would this book make a good movie?

Did you know much about the historical events of this book before you began the book?

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