Hold the Line by Kerry Harrison
Fictionalising the infamous 1981 Springbok tour in New Zealand, Hold the Line vividly brings to life this national rugby tour and the protests against the tour and apartheid in South Africa.
Beth is one of the central characters. Returning home from London, she is studying law. Her father is a World War II veteran and a huge rugby fanatic who is looking forward to the Springboks touring. But Beth’s brother is appalled that Muldoon would allow a rugby tour to go ahead from apartheid South Africa. He becomes a key figure in the protests, which become increasingly violent. Beth will need to make a decision about what side she supports by the end of the novel.
To make things more complicated, Beth meets Victor, a police officer, who she starts dating who is hiding a secret from her. What she isn’t aware of is that Victor is part of the notorious Police Red Squad, clashing with protesters.
Forty years after this real-life tour, Kerry brings the events vividly to life, creating a multi-layered and multi-faceted novel that looks at all sides of this nation-defining conflict. Hold the Line is a fast-paced read with increasing tension, with compelling characters at its core. Kerry has certainly done her research, but it’s her skill as a writer that makes this novel such a page-turning, insightful, and thought-provoking read. Hold the Line captures an unparalleled period in New Zealand history and brings some understanding about the how and whys of how New Zealand ended up so divided over that long and violent winter.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Cloud Ink Press