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What the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams

Graeme's latest novel 

Long-listed for the Voss Literary Prize 2022

Twelve-year-old Finn wakes up one day with super-hearing. It gives him ‘dancing eyes’ and fainting spells, makes him the target of the school bully, and opens a window onto his parents’ failing marriage. At night he hears the dream-talk of Buseje, an asylum seeker who lives downstairs in the granny flat.

Finn begins to retrieve the fragmented stories which spill out while Buseje sleeps, helping her untangle the terrible mysteries of her childhood. But as Finn’s superpowers grow, he unwittingly unleashes ghosts from the past.

As the immigration officers close in on Buseje, can Finn do anything to prevent her from being deported?

Set against the political backdrop of the race riots in Sydney in 2005, What the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams is a poignant insight into the silences and injustices that divide us, and the healing power of unlikely friendships.

Publishing information:

Sydney | Booktopia, 2021

Sydney | Lusaris, 2021


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"Whimsical and tender ... a beautifully writen coming-of-age story. Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this is a powerful and moving exploration of friendship, trauma, loss and recovery."

Suzanne Leal

author of The Deceptions

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"A moving, sensitive account of a child comprehending his startling circumstances… At once heartbreaking and redemptive. Graeme Friedman is a gifted storyteller."

Kate Rossmanith

author of Small Wrongs

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"Assured, powerful and moving. The world of the child is created with delicacy and authenticity and the boy’s ‘super-hearing’ works extraordinarily well: it has a medical explanation, and yet that diagnosis doesn't begin to account for its complexity and metaphorical richness."

David Medalie

author of The Mistress’s Dog

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“More than just a coming-of-age novel, What the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams is a wonderful affirmation of the human spirit, full of compassion and hope.”

 Aviva Lowy, Plus 61J

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"Beautiful and profound. A richly complex and lyrical novel that is a portrait of the essential reckoning that the young must make with pain and suffering in order to fully inhabit their moral personhood."

Ceridwen Dovey

author of In the Garden of the Fugitives

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‘With great subtlety the story of a family is given a wider resonance as connections are made between Australia’s brutal history and present challenges with what has happened or is happening elsewhere.’

David Medalie

author of The Mistress’s Dog

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"Friedman’s prose effortlessly draws readers into this captivating storyWhat the Boy Hears When the Girl Dreams is a riveting story that takes readers through a vivid world as it is seen through a young boy’s imaginative eyes. This is an evocative novel with a creative plot and engrossing characters."

Literary Titan

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