Skye thinks her life sucks. She has no father, her mother is busy all the time, and her best friend has a new boyfriend. Skye longs to be part of a real family. So when she's invited to travel to the West Coast of New Zealand to meet her ailing great-grandfather, she's keen. She's also determined to discover why her mother is estranged from the rest of the family.

But the truth remains elusive and Skye becomes embroiled in several puzzling situations, all played out against a wild but threatened landscape. Why is her mother so difficult? What dangerous secret is Skye's great-grandfather trying to confess? Why is Skye drawn to her newly-found teenage cousin, Josh? What can she do to stop Josh's environmental protest group being betrayed by a double agent?

Skye is pulled in different directions but the worst problem is her own fear. In the end, all she can do is ... run. This is a tense, nail-biting story of a girl trying to find her family - and herself.

Author's Comment

My husband's grandfather was a coalminer. He began working in a mine in Scotland when he was 10, and spent the next 30 years there. Then he emigrated to New Zealand and worked in the Millerton mines (in Buller, on the West Coast) for another 32 years.

This family history, together with a visit to the ghost towns of Millerton and Denniston, gave me the idea of writing a YA story which looks at both past and present-day issues relating to coalmining. My heroine wrestles with family secrets and lies in a setting where nature itself is under threat.

Reader's Activity

Research Denniston and Millerton and describe what the communities were like when coalmining was in its heyday.

Research the history of the protests against more mining on the Denniston Plateau (in Buller).

Book Reviews "... although this book also has a powerful and exciting environmental theme, it's the complex intrigue of intergenerational relationships that lies at the heart of the story."
Bill Nagelkerke in Magpies, 28no.4, Sept 2013.

"As a New Zealand young adult fiction author, Orman's attention to detail sets the scene and makes it evident she has done her research." read more ...
Poppy on Flaxflowers Reviews, 04/09/2014

"A novel packed with environmental and relationship issues, Touchstone opens with a historical scene - a pregnant girl is let down by her boyfriend."
Crissi Blair in The School Library, 21, summer/autumn 2014

"Lorraine has written a thrilling story using two protagonists' voices to tell the story. She skilfully blends historical and present-day time settings to reveal the family secrets... Highly recommended for 10-14 year olds, Senior Primary, Intermediate, and Year 9 and 10s." read more ...
Maria Gill on KidsBooksNZ blog, 07/05/2013

"By a clever use of prologue set nearly 70 years in the past and involving the present day characters, the reader is constantly on their toes picking up clues of how the whole story fits together with its network of lies and secrets. Like all Lorraine Orman's stories this one shows a deep understanding of family relationships and the need to be loved." read more ...
Barbara Murison in Around The Bookshops blog, 02/05/2013

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