Book review: Bend with the Wind by Suraya Dewing

Genre: Historical/Romance/Coming-of-Age

Published: Rangitawa Publishing, 2015

Author fact: Suraya Dewing is a New Zealand author and the founder of The Story Mint company.

bend with the wind

The Story: Bend with the Wind is a love story between Sophie, a white university student and Joe, a Maori police officer. Their struggles with cultural differences and family opposition are heightened by the political unrest unfolding around them. It’s 1981 and New Zealand is divided over the controversial tour of the Springboks, South Africa’s rugby team. Sophie becomes a passionate protestor against the apartheid regime it represents, while Joe’s job forces him to go against his own beliefs and support the tour.

Why I liked it: Reading Bend with the Wind is like peeling an onion. Each layer deepens the theme of racial conflict. At its heart is Sophie and Joe’s interracial love story. As if this is not difficult enough, their lives are surrounded by the nationwide tensions resulting from the Springbok Tour. The final layer is the story of the historical Maori leader Te Whiti o Rongomai. His peaceful protests over land injustices at Parihaka a hundred years earlier continue to have a ripple effect on Joe’s family. Suraya’s novel offers a sensitive, moving and informative exploration of two of the most controversial events in New Zealand history. The scope of Bend with the Wind is enormous and every reader is sure to take away something different.

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