April 25

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

Firstly, hello! Remember me? Ms K for those of you who don’t. I can’t blame you – it has been a hot minute.

Reason? Nothing drastic, just work, life, work, bit more work and books. Lots of good books!

I didn’t really know which one to review first. I even contemplated a group review – like a group art show where I could just rave about them all at once. I may do that next. Stay tuned to see.

I grabbed this gem in a little bookshop out west and thought I’d stumbled on a bit of secret because it was Winner of the Victorian Permier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. I suspect the words unpublished won’t be seen next to this author’s work again as she is a great writer and I hoovered right through it.

Kokomo is the story of Mina and her mum.

One morning, while living in London, Mina receives a phone call from her friend Kira back home in Australia.

“Mina, it’s your mum. She left the house.’

Now not big news for most of us, but Mina’s mum Elaine had not left the house in 12 years – not since Mina’s dad suddenly died. Racing back home, Mina finds her mum tucked away indoors and as shut down as ever (and why Mina, heartbroken, left for London). And so begins the untangling of ‘that outing’ and the reintroduction of Mina to the neighborhood she grew up in.

Each chapter open a door to the puzzle of her mum’s expedition and discovery of a new insights into her mum. Interwoven with Mina’s story, is Elaine’s which starts before Mina is born. It is sad and a little weird to be honest and I am not to sure how I feel about Elaine. Indulgent, selfish or something else? I may just be just a hard-arse so please read this one and let me know if you think I am …. or if you have read it (which you possibly have because this one is e v e r y w h e r e now), please message me.

Like many interesting stories, Kokomo is all about secrets. Big ones, little ones and those that are the foundation of someone’s life. What this book does really well is show you what lengths people go to maintain and endure them – regardless of who they hurt and what damage they cause. I really loved reading this book but at the end I wanted to throw it straight at Elaine.

But see what you think. You may be gentler than me and may understand her a little more and because of this, I think this one may be fabulous book club fodder because however you feel about Elaine, you will – I am pretty certain – feel it very, very strongly.

But that is just my 2 cents worth.