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

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,411 ratings  ·  295 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...more
Paperback, 135 pages
Published November 20th 2002 by Miramax Books (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Diane
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...more
Sharon
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...more
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
Richard
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
Carolyn
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
Emily
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
Jennifer
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
Tina
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.
Ebony
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.... :)
Nancy
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...more
Amy
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
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)...more
Heidi
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...more
4julia
Julia Fusco
4/8/09
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...more
Nihan
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
görünce...more
Kirstin
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
Kim
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
Miss Carman
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
Madeleine
I read this on one flight up to Seattle, so a quick read (I'd also seen the movie based on the book a couple of years ago). Quick but good read. This story is about Australia, but we all know (I hope) that a very similar pattern of kidnapping indigenous children and forcing them to attend residential schools existed in the U.S. and Canada (Shi-shi-etko is a great picture book about this in Canada).

The lengths that people have gone to and go to today to fight back when a colonizing power tries t...more
Jon
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and this book shows an example of it. In 1931, the Austrailian government passed an edict to forcibly remove all mixed race aboriginal children from their families and raise them in state run homes. It was felt that the children, by virtue of their white heritage, were smarter than full-blooded aborigines and it was in their best interest to be assimilated into white culture. They were forbidden to speak their language or practice their customs and...more
Ryo Morishita
BOOK TITLE: Rabbit-Proof Fence
Publisher: Oxford
NOTES: It's a true story of Australian history. I'll go to Australia, so Mat recommended this book to me.
DISCUSSION QUESTION:
1-Do you know Aboriginies?Do you know how they spent?
-Yes, we learned about them when we were freshmen. they were discriminated by white people.
2-How will you do when you are taken away from your family? Can you walk over 1,000km?
-Maybe, I can't. But I would try to escape and go back to my family.
7-WORD SUMMARY:
1-half-cas...more
Rdonn
Jul 11, 2014 Rdonn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rdonn by: Book club selection
A simple book that tells a heart-wrenching story. Doris Pilkington tells the story of her mother and two aunts, who as children, half-caste Aborigine Australians, were forcibly sent to a place many miles away to be brought up as English-speaking girls. It is part prison and part concentration camp. They learn of the punishment meted out to anyone who tries to escape, but there is no way Molly and Gracie and Daisy will remain there. They escape and know if they can find the Rabbit Proof Fence and...more
Gill
This sounded like an amazing true story of the journey three Aboriginal girls, removed from their families, but unfortunately the blurb on the back of the book did not seem to tally with the story: "After regular stays in solitary confinement, the three girls - scared and homesick - planned and executed a daring escape.."
In the book the escape does not feature until chapter 8 out of 9, and the girls only arrive at the camp in chapter 7!
The book is interesting and valuable in that it sets out t...more
James H.
"Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence" details the true story of three young girl's escape from the Moore River Native Settlement in Western Australia. I gave this book four stars because it exposes a period of Australian history -- a history mirrored here in the US -- that for so many years was kept from the public conscious. Like so many of our guilty secrets though, the actions that resulted in a "Stolen Generation" have come to light in no small part due to the author of this book.

That said, this...more
Geoff
I know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.

My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?

I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I wo...more
Sondra Griner
Warning: If you are hoping to "read" the Rabbit Proof Fence movie, you may be disappointed by this book. Movies often make a real story more dramatic than they really were, and this is no exception.

This book is a good view of the experience of some young uneducated girls from an Aboriginal culture in the 1930's. It also provides some historical background on early encounters between Aboriginal and British people, and shows a total lack of consideration of the native cultures. (I don't mean to be...more
Sam
A valuable account of three girls' escape from a colonialist school and its demeaning conditions. An escape that carried them, barefoot, across dozens of miles of desert, patrolled by trackers, inhabited by natural and human denizens as likely to harm as to help, and split by a fence from coast to coast that the girls employ as a guide to their aboriginal home.
Stephanie
Yes, read with my daughter - part of the grandfather-mother-daughter reading club... there are books beyond divergent for 11-year olders! It is a bit of a ponderous read... but if you add the promise of the movie as a reward... you can con an-11-year-old into finishing it.

It's an important story... the consequences of imperialism. Just as it has happened in scores of other areas around the world... the Europeans arrived and claimed what they felt was their due. That they killed, stole and raped...more
Anne Fenwick
This is an amazing book about a truly incredible journey by three young girls across Australia. It's not even very long, so there's absolutely no reason for anyone not to read it and find out for themselves. The first couple of chapters, which attempt to summarize the entire history of the children's aboriginal ancestors are the shakiest in the book, so hang on in till you get past them.

I do have a couple of comments on the synopsis given for this edition of the book:

Following an Australian gov
...more
Kathleen
This book could have been a much more engaging and fulfilling tale as the feat of the protagonists is one of epic proportions. Unfortunately, the ponderous writing and lack of character development diminishes this impressive journey.
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Doris Pilkington is also known as Nugi Garimara and Doris Pilkington Garimara.
More about Doris Pilkington...
Under the Wintamarra Tree Caprice, A Stockman's Daughter Home to Mother Rabbit Proof Fence (Oxford Bookworms Library)

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