Finding by David Hill
A family boards a ship bound for New Zealand. What will they find here? Tests lies ahead -- war, earthquakes, brushes with death. And so do some thrilling discoveries.
Master storyteller David Hill traces the fortunes of two New Zealand families, Scottish and Māori, over seven interwoven generations through wars, depressions, disasters, protests and social change.
It is a rich, fast-paced novel with well researched details surrounding some of Aotearoa's most notable events. From the World Wars, to the Napier earthquake, and the huge controversy of the Springbok tour, the family experiences it all.
As well as covering over 130 year of big events, Hill also gently, yet powerfully, tackles the topic of identity and racism. One character, Alan, talks of how he walks in both worlds - Pakehā and Māori. It's a poignant moment that really makes you think about your own experiences and beliefs. However, the life-changing events that help shape the families never overshadow or dominate the main story; a story about two families.
Sectioned into parts, it allows seven generations of the family to share their own story. Shared stories are interwoven and retold through each member, much like the twisted family tree or braided river.
Strong themes of friendship, whānau, caring for others, and relationships bubble under the surface of the book.
A map at the beginning of the book helps you place the action, while a family tree acts as both a spoiler and a handy pictorial reminder of the relationships.
The families live alongside a river, which is the constant throughout the book. The importance of the land comes through strongly. It was particularly lovely to see the river take on a life of its own -- it really does become an extra character to the rich story.
The book will no doubt become a must read within the classroom. However, it would make for a wonderful home read-aloud with older primary school children too, allowing for plenty of rich discussions.
Finding is a well-written and interesting introduction to New Zealand history, wrapped up in a compelling story about two families.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Puffin, RRP $19.99