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Becoming Dinah

by Kit de Waal

'new gen' - Great Books for Young Adults Family Drama Literary Fiction Modern and Contemporary Fiction Shorter Reads

LoveReading View on Becoming Dinah

This unique, incisive novel is an emotionally engrossing road-trip reinvention of Moby Dick with female characters, and a gripping mystery about what main protagonist Dinah is running from to find her place to call home.

Seventeen-year-old Dinah has lived her whole life on a commune and now feels compelled to flee everything she’s ever known. After being home-schooled, a recent period in mainstream schooling has turned her world upside-down, as has turbulent upheavals at home, and then there’s the mystery of what happened between Dinah and new friend Queenie. She shaves off her hair, adopts a new name and flees, illegally driving a VW campervan (her version of Moby Dick’s Pequod ship) with a cantankerous one-legged neighbour for company. While driving, Dinah confronts her many demons, most of which stem from her confusing sense of identity. She’s mixed race, but feels neither black nor white, and she’s attracted to boys and girls.

The road is bumpy, with many revelations and confrontations along the way. Eventually, though, Dinah realises that “the road that took you away has led you all the way back home”. This is a smartly-crafted novel with real resonance, a story that honestly and empathetically imparts an uplifting message to “Always be yourself first…find yourself and be yourself”.

Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Joanne Owen

Becoming Dinah Synopsis

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted Kit de Waal responds to classic Moby Dick by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl. Dinah's whole world is upside down, dead things and angry men and cuts all over her head that are beginning to sting....

Seventeen-year-old Dinah needs to leave her home, the weird commune where she grew up. She needs a whole new identity, starting with how she looks, starting with shaving off her hair, her 'crowning glory'. She has to do it quickly, because she has to go now. Dinah was going to go alone and hitch a ride down south. Except, she ends up being persuaded to illegally drive a VW campervan for hundreds of miles, accompanied by a grumpy man with one leg. This wasn't the plan. But while she's driving, Dinah will be forced to confront everything that led her here, everything that will finally show her which direction to turn...

In her first YA novel, Costa-shortlisted author Kit de Waal responds to the classic Moby Dick with entirely new characters, a VW campervan, and by tearing the power away from obsessive Captain Ahab and giving it to a teenage girl who's determined to find a new life, far away from her unconventional upbringing.

Becoming Dinah Press Reviews

Becoming Dinah is a story with ancient resonance that's also fresh and defiantly original. I fell utterly in love with Dinah. I felt her pain and wanted the best for her from the start. A proper adventure wrapped around a tender, beautifully told story of loss, resilience and discovery. What a beautiful book. - Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781510105706
Publication date: 11/07/2019
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781510105706
Publication date: 11th July 2019
Author: Kit de Waal
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 240 pages
Genres: NewGen - YA Fiction, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Modern and Contemporary Fiction, Shorter Reads,
Collections: 80+ Must-read Novels by Black Writers - Black Lit Matters,
Categories: Adventure stories (Children's / Teenage), Personal & social issues: self-awareness & self-esteem (Children's / Teenage),

About Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader's Choice Prize 2014. My Name is Leon is her first novel. She has two children. Author photo © Justine ...

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