September online ebook club wrap-up – Tracks

TracksThis month our September Online ebook club read was Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Tracks is the memoir of Davidson’s 1700 mile walk across the Australian desert with 4 camels and her dog in tow.

The first part of the book is about Davidson’s long preparation for the journey. Davidson moves to the town of Alice Springs in the 70’s with no money, no camels and no real knowledge of how to survive in the desert. She spends the next 2 years acquiring money, camels and knowledge. Davidson depicts the Alice Springs of this time as a place where white men dominate. She observes and experiences the effects of extreme and at times violent sexism and witnesses shocking racism. The second part of the book talks about the journey itself. Davidson describes her changing moods and emotions and in particular her need to be alone. She is often annoyed when National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan turns up to take photos of the journey but is a lot more accepting of the local indigenous population. Davidson makes a lot of observations about indigenous rights, outback tourism and her own state of mind when she is alone in the desert.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book. Davidson’s journey is fascinating and her self-reflection was particularly interesting. There has been a lot of speculation about the motives behind her journey with the theory that she did it in response to her tragic childhood and her mother’s suicide. In the book, however, Robyn indicates that she is not exactly sure why she did it and I’m more inclined to believe this. Robyn’s relationship with the camels and her dog, Diggity was funny and heart-warming. I had no idea camels had such strong personalities. I also felt that she described the local indigenous populations, and especially her companion, ‘Eddie’ very well. Ultimately the book has inspired me to explore more of our country and try new things.

I also saw the movie and while the book conveys the story far better, I think the movie did well considering it had to restrict the story to 2 hours. The book obviously provides more flesh to the story but the movie doesn’t stray from the general plot line and the acting is fantastic.

Over to you – did you enjoy the book this month? Why or why not? How did you think it compared to the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts.