Dancing with the Octopus by Debora Harding


Dancing with the Octopus

25th July 2020.   5 stars

How do you review a story that’s so intensely personal and traumatic, where the author opens her heart and soul to you?

Simple – you focus on how it made you feel. I felt uplifted by this life-affirming account that shows how tragedy and heartache can not only be overcome, but turned into a positive energy and force for good.

At the beginning, I thought the leaps back and forth in time made the story a little disjointed and difficult to follow. But once I was into the heart of the book, the narrative had me gripped and refused to let go as the tragic events and aftermath were revealed. I felt dismayed and shocked at times at the way the author was treated, but her positive spirit and refusal to cast stones shone through. By the end I was cheering for her.

It’s a heart-warming and sincere account of true events that is in no way sentimental. It’s filled with love, energy and a determination to face the trauma, aftermath and fears they produced, with dignity, compassion and humour.

Inspiring and truly uplifting. A must read.

I was given an advance copy of the book in return for an honest review.


One Omaha winter day in 1978, when Debora Harding was just fourteen, she was abducted at knife-point, thrown into a van, assaulted, held for ransom, and left to die.

But what if this wasn’t the most traumatic, defining event in her childhood?

Undertaking a radical project, Debora Harding dexterously shifts between the past and present to unravel her story. From the immediate aftermath to the possibility of restorative justice twenty years later, Dancing with the Octopus lays bare the social and political forces that act upon us after the experience of serious crime. A vivid, sly and intimate portrait of one family’s disintegration, this is a darkly humorous and ground-breaking narrative of reckoning and recovery.

Dancing with the Octopus

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