‘I was born into the war still raging inside my father.’
Ruth Clare's father came back from the Vietnam War a changed man: a violent, controlling parent and a dominating, aggressive husband. Through a childhood of being constantly on guard, with no one to protect her but herself, Ruth learned to be strong and fierce in the face of fear.
After escaping her difficult upbringing, Ruth went on to have a family of her own. The challenges of parenting left her desperate for reassurance that she would not repeat her father's behaviour. She met with other veterans and began learning about the effects of conscription, military training and post-traumatic stress disorder. The stories Ruth uncovered left her with a surprising empathy for the man who’d caused her so much pain, and renewed her determination to stop the legacy of war passing down to the next generation.
Weaving a striking personal narrative with a revelatory exploration of the effects of war, Enemy is a bold, compelling and ultimately triumphant memoir from a hugely impressive new Australian writer.
ENEMY for high school students
Domestic violence happens in all communities, cultures and socio-economic groups. The prevalence of this issue in our society means it is inevitable that some students will have had some very similar experiences to me.
While this text might be confronting for some, it also offers the opportunity to discuss this very important issue, and gives students the chance to feel less alone with their own struggles.
This book also offers rarely heard first person accounts of returning veterans of the Vietnam War that brings to life the historical context and psychological impact of their service.
For ideas on how to engage with the text download the teaching unit.
ENEMY for book groups
ENEMY has been widely discussed in book groups. Some questions that have stimulated conversation include:
What did you like best about this book?
What feelings did this book evoke for you?
Who has the right to tell a family story?
If you could hear the story from another person's point of view, whose view would you like to hear?
What did you already know about this subject before reading this book?
Is there benefit in discussing domestic violence in this way?
Is there benefit in reflecting on the Vietnam War in this way?
How did the structure of the book affect the story?
Did you discover anything you didn't know from the book?
If the book was adapted into a movie, who would you pick to play the parts?