Title: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
Author: Doris Pilkington
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Book to Film, History, Indigenous Australians
Dates read: 8th – 12th June 2019
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
5th sentence, 74th page: It was at that moment this free-spirited girl knew that she and her sisters must escape from this place.
This is the true account of Doris Pilkington Garimara’s mother Molly, made legendary by the film ‘Rabbit-Proof Fence’.
In 1931 Molly led her two sisters on an extraordinary 1,600 kilometre walk across remote Western Australia. Aged 8, 11 and 14, they escaped the confinement of a government institution for Aboriginal children removed from their families. Barefoot, without provisions or maps, tracked by Native Police and search planes, the girls followed the rabbit-proof fence, knowing it would lead them home.
Their journey – longer than many of the celebrated walks of our explorer heroes – reveals a past more cruel than we could ever imagine.
I watched the movie Rabbit-Proof Fence years and years and years ago. But I only recently found out that it was actually a book. Written by the daughter of Molly, the girl who made all of the strong decisions in their journey. Which of course meant that I had to buy the book straight away. And sink my teeth and brain into this amazing journey. Something that made me uncomfortable to read about, but not as bad as I thought it would make me feel.
This is a must read book for any Australian. It’s a part of our history that is just touched upon, but by Doris writing of her mother’s plight, her family’s history and the colonisation of their country, you suddenly become far more aware of what the First Nations people went through. Although the movie tends to be something that is watched in high school, the book gives a lot more background on the family structure and relationships of the girls. The past and the history of their families and peoples’ before they were even conceived.
I was expecting a lot of angst out of this story. I was expecting a tale that would make me feel guilty, because the movie kind of does. But it isn’t like that. The facts are simply laid out and the determination of Molly is highlighted again and again. It makes you admire her and wonder what would happen if you were in that situation. How you would deal with something that was so unfathomably horrible, and find a way to fix it.
This is one of those books that I’m going to make my children (if I have any) read. It won’t leave my shelf and isn’t one that I’m going to give away. It is an incredibly easy book to read and one that when you close the last page, you just lie there kind of stunned. Stunned at the strength and resilience of one small girl. Filled with admiration of her strength and power. Seriously. Just read this book.