Book Review | Dancing with the Octopus The Telling of a True Crime by Debora Harding


Title: Dancing with the Octopus

Author: Deborah Harding

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

Release Date: 27th August 2020

Source: NetGalley

Buy: Amazon UK
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, Deborah 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.

TW: Rape, Kidnap, Mental Abuse

Debora at the age of 14 was walking home when her life was viciously interrupted, she was abducted, she was raped and then she was left in the cold to die.  I’d like to say this was the only bad thing to happen to her, it was probably the worst but her childhood and path to adulthood wasn’t easy.

Debora shares her life with us, she shares her dysfunctional upbringing, her very difficult relationship with her mother, her love for her father despite him protecting her mother and her path to becoming a parent herself.

It is poignant, it is harrowing and sometimes it is down right upsetting but Debora brings a wonderful narrative to it, sometime a little bit of humour pokes through this very dark journey, a definite must read.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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18 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. It's come up on my radar recently but I like to know what to expect when it comes to true crime as I'm quite sensitive to graphic violence. This sounds like a great read so I'll bump it up my list! 🙂

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    1. You are welcome! I’m the same, when I was younger there was quite a spate of books about kids living in abusive homes and I always avoided those like the plague. This one though, I was intrigued when it said being kidnapped wasn’t the worst thing and I’m glad I gave it a try!

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  2. I used to read a lot of this kind of thing years ago-the bad things happening to ordinary people. I read a ton of abuse books but found they were affecting my depression so I had to stop! This one sounds like exactly the kind I would've read.

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    1. I avoided those sort of books like the plague but this one caught my eye and I’m glad I took the plunge.

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  3. This sounds intense. I don't usually read non fiction but now I'm curious!

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    1. I read quite a lot of non fiction but I don’t read too much like this at all.

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  4. A succinct review, I believe I requested this one but it’s not out til later this year here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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  5. Serpent's Tail puts out some worthy books.

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  6. Ouch, this sounds like a difficult read, but worth it!

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    1. It was, I usually shy away from these sort of books but I enjoyed this one.

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  7. Sounds like quite the read. Think I have to add this one to my TBR list. :)

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  8. I've just put a hold on this one at the library. It is still on order but hopefully it comes in soon. This is an Omaha story I had not heard yet.

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    1. It can be hard in parts but it is a good book, I hope you enjoy it Sarah.

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  9. What a shocking story! I can only imagine how tough it must've been ever since that one horrible tragedy... Thanks for sharing this with us!

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