About the book

A stolen diary.
A race against time.
A girl with everything to lose.

When Melati Nelson wins a scholarship to an elite Melbourne high school, she buries her bad girl past. But after the school unfairly punishes her, a defiant Mel steals a diary from the school counsellor’s office, only to discover a coded cry for help. The diary belongs to Devi, a young Indonesian girl who is being held by traffickers.

Mel races against the clock, in a desperate journey that takes her from Melbourne to Java, to work out Devi’s identity and where she’s being held. Before long the pieces fall into place and Mel must put her own life on the line to find justice for a girl she’s never met.

A gripping and original novel that explores privilege, responsibility, and the difficult and dangerous choices we are sometimes forced to make.

Shortlisted for the Ampersand Prize (Hardie Grant)

Shortlisted for the Davitt Awards 2023 (Sisters in Crime Australia)

Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing to make things right…

Reviews for The Hidden Girl

‘Spanning the busy neighbourhoods of Jakarta and the heart of Melbourne, this gripping psychological thriller clutches onto your heartstrings as you watch Melati get dangerously closer and closer to the truth … Melati is such an intriguing, original character, one you can’t help but love … With a labyrinth of plot twists and shocking revelations, Louise Bassett’s debut novel is heart-pounding, hair-raising, spine-chilling and so much more. Each page ignites every nerve in the body, switching on your fight-or-flight response as you connect with the characters and follow each step in their investigation. This is a story about the strength of the human spirit, the hope we place in strangers and the dangerous choices we are forced to make for the better good.’

— Readings

‘The Hidden Girl excels in the exploration of the fierceness, courage and complexity of young women. Melati is not only motivated by an impulse for adventure, but also by a deep sense of empathy and concern for Devi, and anger at the injustice she faces. Bassett also effectively depicts the electric awkwardness of romance in your teens, while maintaining Melati's focus on helping Devi. Racing with the characters across lush Javanese roads and the menacing laneways of inner-city Melbourne while deciphering clues and waiting for justice to be served makes The Hidden Girl a thrilling and gratifying read.’

— Books+ Publishing

‘The Hidden Girl is a taut and compelling crime YA that explores dark places with a deft hand. Melati is my favourite kind of heroine - rebellious, self-deprecating and determined. Her sure sense of self and justice feels relevant to young people today, who face a broken world but remain undaunted. I loved her journey.’

— Simmone Howell, YA co-author of Take Three Girls and author of Girl Defective.

‘I loved this enthralling, fast-paced mystery, which is also a genuinely moving story about overcoming past mistakes and the power of forgiveness. Melati is a complex and loveable heroine whose ability to get herself in and out of trouble had me on the edge of my seat. A page-turner!’

— Lisa Walker, YA author of The Girl with the Gold Bikini.

Book Club Guide

Book Club guide - 11 Discussion questions

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Upcoming Events

The Hidden Girl shortlisted for the Davitt Awards 2023!

The Hidden Girl has been shortlisted for Best Young Adult Novel in Sisters in Crime Australia’s Davitt Awards 2023. I’m thrilled and honoured to be selected, alongside Sarah Epstein, Fleur Ferris and Ellie Marney. Thanks to Sisters in Crime Australia for their amazing support of Australian women’s crime fiction.

To read more see this link – https://sistersincrime.org.au/crime-alert-davitt-awards-shortlist-nominations-announced/

Crime Without Borders, 17 February at 6.30pm

The wonderful Sisters in Crime are hosting Crime Without Borders on Friday, 17 February at 6.30pm in South Melbourne. I’ll be on a panel with two other Victorian authors, Ellie Marney and AM Stuart, and compere Janice Simpson, exploring the joys and pitfalls of setting crime novels in more than one country. Sisters and brothers in crime are most welcome.

See the link for full details and to book: https://sistersincrime.org.au/event/crime-without-borders/

Words and Nerds Podcast

I’m live on the wonderful Words and Nerds Podcast. Listen in to hear me discuss writing about controversial topics, young adult fiction and the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival with the fabulous Jacquie Byron (author of Happy Hour).

Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

I’ll be appearing at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival on 29 October at 2pm with Meita Kasim and Phillip Gwynne. We’ll be discussing writing about challenging issues in young adult fiction. Can’t wait!

See the link for full details: https://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/program/main-program-young-adult-fiction/

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About Louise

About Louise

Louise Bassett writes for young adults and grown-ups. The Hidden Girl is her debut novel and was shortlisted for the Ampersand Prize. Her award-winning short fiction has been published internationally and she’s a past winner of the Australian Crime Writers Association SD Harvey Award.

After qualifying as a lawyer in Adelaide, she worked in international aid in Indonesia, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. While living in Indonesia, she scaled volcanoes and worked with activists who were campaigning to end violence against women. These experiences inspired The Hidden Girl.

Louise works in community justice, giving her a deep understanding of the impact of crime and vulnerability; issues she explores in her writing. Based in Melbourne, Louise lives with her partner and too many books.


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