Dancing with the Octopus (Hardback)

The Telling of a True Crime

Debora Harding

A fierce, strikingly redemptive exploration of the impact of traumatic violence on victim, perpetrator and society

'Extraordinary' Kate Mosse

'Electric' Lemn Sissay

'Searing' Julia Samuel

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.

Publication date: 27/08/2020

£16.99

ISBN: 9781788165167

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Biography & Memoir

Dancing with the Octopus (Ebook)

The Telling of a True Crime

Debora Harding

A fierce, strikingly redemptive exploration of the impact of traumatic violence on victim, perpetrator and society

'Extraordinary' Kate Mosse

'Electric' Lemn Sissay

'Searing' Julia Samuel

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.

Publication date: 27/08/2020

£10.99

ISBN: 9781782837015

ISBN 10 / ASIN: B087DB2QD8

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Biography & Memoir

Dancing with the Octopus (Audiobook)

The Telling of a True Crime

Debora Harding

Buy from

A fierce, strikingly redemptive exploration of the impact of traumatic violence on victim, perpetrator and society

'Extraordinary' Kate Mosse

'Electric' Lemn Sissay

'Searing' Julia Samuel

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.

Publication date: 27/08/2020

£19.99

ISBN: 9781782837794

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: Biography & Memoir

Reviews for Dancing with the Octopus

'A searing literary work that will help many of us see trauma in a different light. In strong and powerful prose Debora Harding shows us what it means to move forward through grief.'

Julia Samuel, author of This Too Shall Pass

'Dancing with the Octopus is a brave and authentic picture of the tailwinds of trauma, the limits of human forgiveness and what it takes to maintain hope in a world bent on breaking us. Highly readable, and deeply moving.'

Rachel Louise Snyder, award-winning author of No Visible Bruises

'A gripping account of one woman's confrontation with the terror and heartbreak of her past. Harding combines true crime and family saga to illustrate the aftershocks of trauma, and the courage, tenderness, and humor that recovery requires.'

Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me

'Debora Harding writes with a stunningly original mixture of insight, wit, and humanity about a life packed with so much drama, loss and resilience that you can't believe its not an epic work of fiction.'

Kate Weinberg, author of The Truants

'Extraordinary, so powerful and like nothing I've read. Astonishing book. It deserves to be the most massive hit.'

Kate Mosse 

'I have just finished reading Dancing with the Octopus... You are lucky! The electricity of this true crime memoir awaits you.'

Lemn Sissay (via Twitter) 

'Debora Harding's book is a beautiful and exacting monument to resilience and recovery'

Jessamy Calkin Daily Telegraph

'It's as gripping as any thriller and as moving as any novel you're ever likely to read.'

Paul Chahidi (via Twitter) 

'Incredible ... a memoir like few others ... seek it out'

Jane Garvey Woman's Hour

'Darkly humorous . . . Harding draws a complex web of interlinked experiences to show how suffering can set up shop for good in a family and a town'

 CrimeReads - Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020

'Gripping ... written with such a light touch that you are drawn in straight away from the moment you open it'

Jeremy Vine BBC Radio 2

Debora Harding

Debora Harding

Debora Harding wrote the final version of this story after watching Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, in 2018. A writer whose work has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Mail and elsewhere, she has trained as a mediator in restorative justice and worked in US politics, amongst other things. The mother of two children, she spent her childhood in Nebraska and Iowa and now lives in England with her British husband.