By Audrey Andrews | July 13th, 2021
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson is an adventure memoir I picked up in Port Angeles, Washington at Port Book and News. The book was a staff pick and has been on my list for some time, so I was obligated to pick it up. As a woman-led adventure memoir, it of course piqued my interest immediately.
While Tracks was no Wild, I am quite glad I read the memoir. Some readers feel Davidson is whiney and cruel, but I read such passages as Davidson truthfully explaining the nuances of adventure. Her trip through the Australian outback was not all beauty and fun; it was mostly challenging and painful. That Davidson appears to have been brutally honest about her experience is something she should be praised for. It seems unfair to judge someone in a situation I utterly cannot relate to. I also understand why people have an issue with her attitude.
Davidson is refreshingly aware of the treatment of Aboriginals in Australia. She includes them throughout the memoir and writes about the ways they occupy the landscape despite their maltreatment by white Australians. Davidson is honest about the cultural differences and misinterpretations that accompany her interactions with Aboriginal Australians as well. Again, this honesty and openness drew me into the book, while it seems to push other readers away.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Tracks is that is was published in 1980. Today, women’s adventure memoirs are relatively accepted in the book community, but this book must have felt quite strange thirty years ago. The memoir experienced a resurgence after being adapted to film in 2013. I have yet to spoil the book by watching the movie, but plan to.
Tracks is worth the read for those interested in adventure memoirs. If adventure memoirs are not your thing, Tracks may be skipped over. I enjoyed the book and am grateful it was a staff pick at Port Book and News.