A girl called Gracie.
A small town called Coongahoola with the dark Bagooli River running through it.
The Bleeders — hundreds of ‘Believers’ who set up on the banks of the river, who start to buy up the town and win souls.
The River Children — born in the aftermath of the infamous River Picnic. They begin to go missing, one after another.
Gracie Barrett is the naively savvy spokesperson for her chaotic family (promiscuous dad, angry mum, twins Lucky and Grub, Elijah the River Child and fervent, prayerful Grandma Bett), for the kids who are taken, for the lurking fear that locks down the town and puts everyone under suspicion.
Gracie is funny and kind, bullied and anguished, and her life spirals out of control when she discovers she knows what no one else does: who is responsible for the missing children.
Coongahoola is where hope and fear collide, where tender adolescence is confronted by death, where kindness is a glimmer of light in the dark.
All Our Secrets is jaunty, quirky and heart-achingly real.
A compelling read… — Radio NZ National
… pulls off two ambitious feats: creating a child narrator who is authentically pre-teen but who can hold adult reader interest, and integrating a well-plotted mystery that keeps tension high and readers guessing. Highly recommended. — NZ Listener
All Our Secrets is available in hard copy at all good bookshops, and here.
From every telegraph pole on Main Road, Nigel’s face looked down at us. His brown hair was bleached by the November sun and the sticky-taped ‘Missing’ posters were crinkled and curling. Sometimes, when I was on my own, I’d whisper hello to him. I’d stare into the little grey dots that made up his eyes, as if the harder I looked, the better I’d understand what was behind them. I thought it was sad that he was much more popular now that he was missing, but I knew why. Up there on the telegraph pole, Nigel was elevated to a new status. He was no longer part of our ordinary world.