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May 12, 2019

Ashes in a Coconut by Bo Kearns ~ a Review

by MK French

Laura Harrison accompanied her husband Jack to Indonesia when he is set to take over as president of a troubled bank. She's intending to save her marriage, even though she has the feeling that something terrible is about to happen. She finds meaning in helping to save endangered orangutans and their habitat, but her husband is caught up in a lot of shady dealings that start to force them apart.

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Ashes in a Coconut
May 2019; Moonshine Cove Publishing
978-1945181504; ebook, print (272 pages)
women's fiction
Ashes in a Coconut is Bo Kearns' debut novel, and he had actually been in Indonesia as part of his career in finance. This is evident in how vivid his descriptions of Bali are when the book opens, and he describes even the accents of the people talking with Laura and Jack. They witness a funeral with a tour guide as they explore the location outside their resort on the way to Jakarta, and it's more like a celebration of life than quiet misery. Following the cremation, the ashes are placed inside a young coconut and it's floated into the ocean. This is obviously the source of the novel's title, and certainly sets the tone for the rest of the book.

A number of odd happenings and dreary circumstances seem to confirm Laura's premonition that life will be difficult in Jakarta, and the culture clashes are inevitable. Grift and bribery is almost a way of life for most Indonesians in the 1980's, and there is very little emotional support for Laura or Jack. Both react in ways they never thought that they would; situations like this can bring out the best or worst in people, and they're no different. The uneasy feeling that Laura had permeates the novel, and I felt bad for most of the people involved. There were times when I was sorry for them, despite their poor choices, and at other times I would've like to reach through the pages to shake them for their stupidity. The novel didn't end in the way that I expected it to, but it fits the story. I'm left with a melancholy kind of feeling, but it's tempered with hope for the future as well.

Buy Ashes in a Coconut at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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