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Rabbit-Proof Fence: The True Story of One of the Greatest Escapes of All Time

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  3,884 Ratings  ·  452 Reviews
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home.

Following an Australian government edict in 1931, black aboriginal children and children of mixed marriages were gathered up by whites and taken to settlements to be assimilated. In Rabbit-Proof Fence, award-winning author Doris Pilkington traces the captiv
Paperback, 135 pages
Published November 20th 2002 by Miramax Books (first published 1996)
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Petra Eggs
Jan 02, 2016 Petra Eggs rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Petra Eggs by: diane librarian
Shelves: 2015-read
I am enjoying the book a lot for it's intellectual honesty as well as it's writing, rather than manipulation of emotions. It's looking like it's going to be a 5 star book, but was only a 2 star movie.

I watched the film the other night. I felt totally manipulated the whole time. It made me wonder if the director's other job wasn't making Middle East propaganda documentaries. 10% facts, and 90% lots of tear-jerk ahhh those poor people, oooh those evil bastards moments. Plus atmospheric lighting an
April (Aprilius Maximus)
First book completed for the #AroundTheWorldAThon: Oceania Edition!

Western Australia, 1930. Not 1830. . . 1930. This is recent history. 2400km, barefoot, through rivers and harsh bush, always hiding. Three “half-caste” Aboriginal girls, 8, 11, and 15, ran away from the Moore River Native Settlement, where they’d been sent in the south of the state, and trekked all the way back north on their own, following the rabbit-proof fence.

It’s an important story, simply told.

For those who are interested, I’m including web links I found. I hope they con
Aug 25, 2016 Diane rated it really liked it
Years ago I saw the excellent movie Rabbit-Proof Fence, and GR friend Brendon reminded me that it was based on this remarkable book.

Doris Pilkington wrote this memoir after hearing the stories of her mother, Molly, and her aunts, Gracie and Daisy. Pilkington begins the book by sharing some history of the Aboriginal people in Australia, and over the generations we see how the British colonialists stole their land, killed them, starved them, and forced the natives to move into government-approved
Mar 09, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
This story is set in Western Australia during the 1930's. It's the story about three young girls Molly, Daisy, and Gracie who are forcibly removed from their families in Jigalong, North West of the Moore River Settlement. Along with these girls there are many other half cast children who are also removed from their families where they are taken to state run facilities. The children are locked into schools with bars on the windows and locks on the doors.

Not long after arriving, Molly knows she mu
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
First things first: there are a lot of reviews on Goodreads complaining that this book isn't adventure-y enough for an adventure novel.

That's because IT'S NOT AN ADVENTURE NOVEL. This book is narrative non-fiction. It tells the story of cross-cultural contact in Western Australia from the military outpost at Albany to the settlement at Swan River to the construction of the Canning Stock Route.

All of this merely serves to set the scene for Pilkington telling her mother's story. In 1931, the aut
Feb 21, 2015 Chrissie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Anne
As a description of the persecution of Aborigines in Australia, this is an important book to have read. An interesting and clear presentation of the facts.

The book is about three half-caste aboriginal girls placed in the Moore River Native Settlement outside Perth. They were taken against both the wishes of the girls themselves and their families. This was a common practice, not at all a onetime exception. Half castes, children of aboriginal mothers and white fathers, that being most usually th
Jan 20, 2017 Puck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Australian and/or Aboriginal History
“In the life of an Aboriginal woman, no one is more important than her mother when she is young, her daughters when she is old.”

I knew very little about the (ugly side of) history of Australia, but this short book definitely was an eye-opener. Rabbit-Proof Fence is the harrowing true story of three mixed-race Aboriginal children who walked a thousand miles to get back to their mothers.

This book, written by Doris Pilkington, tells how her mother Molly and her younger cousins Gracie and Daisy
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
This is the sad yet beautiful, poignant true story of three Aboriginal girls who were taken from their families and tribe during the Australian government's policy of removing children, educating them to be servants and working towards a goal of assimilation by wiping out their genes – the entire race, eventually – through inter-racial marriage. They had found that within three generations of breeding with whites, the children are blond and blue-eyed. Today these children are known as the Stolen ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Emily rated it did not like it
At the risk of sounding like one of "those people," the movie was better. I saw it when it came out years ago and liked it enough to get excited when I found the book it was based on at my local library. It seemed to me that Doris Pilkington couldn't decide if she wanted to write a history of her mother's walk or if she wanted to write a fictionalized version of the true events that would allow her to, as she puts it, "call on [her] skills as writer" to fill in details probably forgotten by her ...more
Beautiful, beautiful story, I understand the hype around this book, and would highly recommend people read this book.

The "Rabbit-Proof Fence" tells the incredibly real and true story of 3 young aboriginal girls, who as part of the stolen generation are removed from their families and taken to a "boarding school" across the country. The girls make the decision to escape after witnessing the horrors of the "school" and embark on the epic journey back to their families and home, by following the ra
Apr 17, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
This is the story of three Aboriginal half caste girls removed from their families in Western Australia by government officials who sent them 1000 miles away to a 'residential school', more like a prison than a boarding school, where they were incarcerated and expected to learn to read and write and speak English before being sent off to be servants. The author, Doris Pilkington (Aboriginal name Nugi Garimara)is the daughter of the eldest girl, Molly and she retells their story in simple, straig ...more
Mar 21, 2009 Richard rated it really liked it
A memoir about three Aboriginal girls who are taken out of their home in Northern Australia (during 1930s) and put in a ‘school’ to train them to become servants. This is all with government approval because the girls are part white and part native. The oldest girl is determined not to stay and to get back to her home. They run away from the school-prison and find the rabbit proof fence that runs the length of Australia and walk home, eating rabbits, beetles, what ever they could find. Pilkingto ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
Okay the whole history and premise of this book is very intriguing. It should get a 5 for that! I am usually one who doesn't like flowery, fluffy prose. I don't need pages and pages of detail to enjoy a story. This book is quick, to the point and almost too short. It is almost written as a direct translation of a related oral story. There is no embellishment. At times I found it a bit rushed. It took 3 girls 9 weeks to travel 1200 + miles alone. The girls were ages 8-14. Nine weeks! I've read no ...more
(Just Follow the) Rabbit Proof Fence is a moving story I had a hard time getting into.

I'm not sure why it was. The book was only 130 pages, and it wasn't a particularly challenging read.

I feel like I'm betraying the author - especially given that she died less than a year ago. (The link there, is worth clicking. It's an article about Doris Pilkington from the LA Times.)

The story fits into my curriculum well, and I don't spend enough time teaching about Australia. It deals with colonialism, indig
Sep 24, 2014 Kirstin rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, movies
I saw the movie based on this book when it came out in 2002 and really enjoyed it but the book turned out to be very-poorly written and a big disappointment. It starts out with a few very confusing and odd chapters about the history of the arrival of white men to Australia and then it moves on to the story of three half white/half Aboriginal girls who are taken over 1600 miles from their homes to an institution to be assimilated into white culture and then they escape and walk back to their home ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Tina rated it it was ok
The premise of the book is good; but the actuality the book was poorly written, at times grammar incorrect, and thus very disappointing. Their very Lil insight from the girl perspective and the 1st fifty pages were disorganized telling of European colonization. The 1st half of book jumped around all over the place with little to no transition btw completely new subjects. Quick read but was hard to read quickly.
Oct 03, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
The girls and their journey are remarkable. There is absolutely no question about that.

The story, itself, is morose. The bizarre injustice is heightened by the number of people who provided them with food but then called the authorities after they left. Why help them if you're just going to turn them in?

These laws were inhumane. But the people are also quite without hope. Their own customs are morbid and depressing. (Hitting one's head until they die when they grieve?)

These girls were remarkabl
Jun 20, 2013 Ebony rated it did not like it
Very disappointed in this book.... The struggle of the girls was sad, and that was the only chapter I enjoyed.. "The escape"! So glad that's over.... :)
Gillian Neff
Jan 18, 2017 Gillian Neff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2009 4julia rated it it was ok
Julia Fusco
English book review#3
A Rabbit and a Review of Rabbit Proof Fence

Rabbit Proof Fence is a true story about a great adventure and an escape. The real story is about three girls who are half-castes in Australia. They are sent to a boarding school. All three girls run away trying to get back to their home. But, the story itself was neither adventurous nor great. Rabbit Proof Fence was disappointing and uninspiring to the true adventure, which probably was so mesmerizing and scary. T
Dec 20, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing
This is a story about love of family, determination and courage, as three Aboriginal girls in Western Australia escape from a government supported facility in the 1930s to return to their families in the bush.
It is interesting how the girls seem to encounter kindness everywhere but in the settlement. The stewards on the boat show them the fish in the ocean and the stars in the sky. The farmers and/or their wives feed them and give them clothing and seem to only report them out of concern for th
Apr 18, 2013 Nihan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
İstilacı beyazların Aborijin kabilelerinin yaşadığı yerleri ele geçirmeye başlaması, beyazların
konuştuğu dilden anlamayan halkın, kendilerine sorulan,"Burada yaşayıp bölgenize yeni bir İngiliz
adı vermek istiyoruz. Buna müsaadeniz var mı? sorusuna çaresiz bir şekilde, düşman olarak algılanmamak için
kafa sallamalarıyla başlamış. Oysa neye izin verdiklerinden haberleri bile yokmuş.

Tabi daha sonra sürüler halinde gelen beyazların istilası ve kendi yaşadıkları alanları çitlerle çevirdiklerini
Jul 13, 2010 Heidi rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
All in all, I think this book is a story that needed telling - for historical purposes/ethical reasoning’s. The author is in fact the daughter of one of the characters. Doris Pilkington shares facts and evidence of this event throughout the book and it just brings to light how much modes of thinking have changed (as well as how much they have not) in the past 80 years.

But... it's not so much of a story as a recounting. I mean, yes, it's bad enough to be kidnapped at age 12 and legally "incarcera
This story is so important for its history: not just the bravery (and skill, and sheer dumb luck) that these girls needed to make it so far through the Australian desert, but the surrounding history and mistreatment of Aboriginal people.

My reaction to the telling of the story is fairly...meh. I go back and forth: I'm glad there's so much history and background, but the result is that it takes a long time for the central characters to be introduced. Plot is given at the expense of characterisatio
Feb 13, 2014 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
This book is based in a real story of the author's mother Molly and her two sisters who were half-casts of Aboriginal children in Australia. Like many Aboriginal children in Australia in the past, they were removed from their families by the government institution and were placed in settlements where they were taught to be domestic workers (for girls) or agricultural workers (for boys). The books gives a rare point of view of the aborigine, which is very different from reports made by the Austra ...more
May 07, 2016 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some years ago I watched the movie "Rabbit Proof Fence" a true story about three aboriginal girls who were taken from their families by the government. Back in the 1920s, 30s on up some of the white settlers did not want the aboriginal population to grow. They stared taking their children from them and moving them 1,000 miles away to concentration type camps. Molly, Gracie, and Daisy were children from parents where the mother was aboriginal, and the father's were white. for decades the kids we ...more
Mike Steven
An absolutely remarkable story, told in a really bland way. As a story, it deserves to be written by someone with a real talent for writing.

I'm not criticising Doris Pilkington for telling her mother's story - it's a great thing that she did - but she needed more support in turning a fantastic story into a narrative worthy of the adventure. The focus of the story should be the escape and amazing journey home, but inexplicably the first eighty pages (out of the one hundred and thirty page total)
Miss Carman
Apr 23, 2013 Miss Carman rated it liked it
Shelves: family, non-fiction
A true story of three half aboriginal Australian girls who get taken by the Australian government far from their home in Jigalong to a "school"/settlement which is more like a prison than anything else, where girls are locked up at night inside the dormitories to prevent them from running away. Nobody has ever escaped before, and though there's punishment for trying to run away, these three girls try anyway. Trying to not get caught, they make a long trip across half of Western Australia, living ...more
Jul 06, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The author is part aboriginal Australian, and her cultural frame greatly enhances the telling of this amazing true story of her mother's escape from what was little more than a concentration camp for mixed-race children. In 1931, seventeen-year-old Molly and her two younger cousins set out for "home." They could neither count, nor read, nor speak much English, and they truly had nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Using Molly's tracking skills, they walked for months, for hundreds of m ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • My Place
  • Am I Black Enough For You?
  • Why Weren't We Told?
  • The White Earth
  • Carpentaria
  • Storm Boy
  • Tirra Lirra by the River
  • Lilian's Story
  • The Twyborn Affair
  • Romulus, My Father
  • The Shiralee
  • Death of a River Guide
  • Remembering Babylon
  • My Brilliant Career
  • The Getting of Wisdom
  • Eucalyptus
  • A Commonwealth of Thieves: The Improbable Birth of Australia
  • The Explorers: Stories of Discovery and Adventure from the Australian Frontier
July 1 birth date is approximate.

Doris Pilkington is also known as Nugi Garimara and Doris Pilkington Garimara.
More about Doris Pilkington...

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“Numbers, dates, in fact mathematics of any kind, have little or no relevance in our traditional Aboriginal society. Nature was their social calendar, everything was measured by events and incidents affected by seasonal changes. For example, summer is pink-eye” 1 likes
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