The first book in the powerful Watermark trilogy.

This is a wonderful book — it’s about life and what life means — it’s about death and letting go, and it’s about the importance of being grounded and enjoying the now.

Dymocks Bookshop

Stunning, stunning, stunning… Total sophistication and nil condescension. Oh to be a teenager again with books like this — no wonder we’re selling more and more teenage fiction to adults.

Jose Keown

18-year-old city girl Zillah accepts an anonymous challenge to spend the holidays in the backblocks of the West Coast.

Finalist 2004 NZ Post Book Awards

Penelope comments:

The Watermark trilogy took me each time I wrote to a favourite nipped-off piece of west coast, where we stay in a hut hemmed in by two rivers and a lagoon.

Over there we do watery things: stare at the big river barrelling down from the mountains into the sea, sometimes flooded to a ropey brown soup bearing trees and godknowswhat; stare at the Tasman Sea’s atrocious breakers; at the peat-stained ‘tea river’, at water heating in a billy. We set nets in the river mouth; dip for whitebait; swim; warm water in the solar shower-bag; conserve it; and inevitably each visit battle through it, raining, with our gear; row the boat across it; drink it in endless cups of billy tea.

The coastline around the river mouth keeps reconfiguring. River edges and huts are swept away, gravel and sand banks appear, and the lagoon swaps sides and changes shape. All that, and yet nothing really changes.

These things happen inside us, too. We contain the river and the sea and all the drops and evaporations in between. But I hope these sorts of notions come over disguised as a good yarn about Zillah, Hep, Joss and the others who grew out of that landscape in my head.

There is no doubt about the power of her writing.

Margaret Mahy

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