Skip to content
Reviewed by Hannah Coombe, English Teacher, Wakatipu High School, Central Otago
Opening sentence
I can't rely on kindness or pity, that's become clear enough. Those are in short supply here.
Duder's most recent novel explores a young girl's journey woven with false identities, daring escapades and the loss of one's homeland.

Through the use of flashbacks, the reader comes to understand the harsh circumstances some children faced during the Victorian Era, including the punitive nature of an unrelenting law. The novel brings to light the suffering that many young women faced when being sent to 'Van Diemen's Land' and tentatively explores early interactions between the colonial settlers and the indigenous Māori tribes who resided around Waitematā Harbour.

The protagonist proves to be feisty and determined, despite her setbacks in life which fuel her perseverance to return to England. Duder's Harriet is a gritty, outspoken girl in a time where young ladies were expected to be demure and silent.

New Zealand teens will be fascinated by an unfamiliar colonial-era Aotearoa and the modern Auckland references which crop up as historic 'easter eggs'.

Advisory warning: Mention of SA and child molestors.
Author & Illustrator: Tessa Duder
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9781761047671
Format: Paperback
Publication: May 2023
Ages: 14+ (Due to content)
Themes: Resilience, identity, gender roles, colonial life, Aotearoa and escape.