About the Book

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of  Crime

The Mystery of Hunting's End - HardcoverCopyright: 2020
Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1635576122
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by Debora Harding

One Omaha winter day in November 1978, when Debora Harding was just fourteen, she was abducted at knifepoint from a church parking lot. She was thrown into a van, assaulted, held for ransom, and then left to die as an ice storm descended over the city.

Debora survived. She identified her attacker to the police and then returned to her teenage life in a dysfunctional home where she was expected to simply move on. Denial became the family coping strategy offered by her fun-loving, conflicted father and her cruelly resentful mother.

It wasn't until decades later - when beset by the symptoms of PTSD- that Debora undertook a radical project: she met her childhood attacker face-to-face in prison and began to reconsider and reimagine his complex story. This was a quest for the truth that would threaten the lie at the heart of her family and with it the sacred bond that once saved her.

Dexterously shifting between the past and present, Debora Harding untangles the incident of her kidnapping and escape from unexpected angles, offering a vivid, intimate portrait of one family's disintegration in the 1970s Midwest.

Written with dark humor and the pacing of a thriller, Dancing with the Octopus is a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking narrative of reckoning, recovery, and the inexhaustible strength it takes to survive.


"With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability." - BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs”

“In this compelling and unflinching memoir which switches between past and present, Harding... unravels the impact of this random act of violence and of her dysfunctional childhood. It's a tale of trauma and PTSD, but also of recovery through the healing power of restorative justice, and of enduring love.” ―Bookseller, Editor's Choice