Book review: Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

Saturday, August 1, 2020 Permalink

I’d had Kokomo by Victoria Hannan for quite a while before I picked it up to read. It’d been garnering a lot of praise from from bookstagrammers, bloggers and reviewers so—although the cover looked like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey—I decided to give it a try.

And in all honesty I almost put it down after the first couple of pages. They were almost entirely focused on the attractiveness of a penis and it wasn’t until later I realised our narrator was drunk so can possibly be forgiven for the puerile stream of consciousness blithering.

Thankfully however, we soon moved into the plot of the book and I was able to settle into the story.

Book review: Kokomo by Victoria HannanKokomo
by Victoria Hannan
Published by Hachette Australia
on 28/07/2020
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction
ISBN: B07VF7YTCD, 9780733643323
Pages: 304

When Mina receives an urgent call from her best friend back in Melbourne, her world is turned upside down. Her reclusive mother, Elaine, has left the house for the first time in twelve years.

Mina drops everything to fly home, only to discover that Elaine will not talk about her sudden return to the world, nor why she's spent so much time hiding from it. Their reunion leaves Mina raking through pieces of their painful past in a bid to uncover the truth.

I understand why Hannan introduces Jack—with whom Mina is smitten—as his (rather revolting) character offers an opportunity for growth / story arc of realisation for Mina. I would, however been happy with the flashback scenes and could have done without the first few pages.

Similarly, the other (very brief) sex scenes felt almost as if Hannan felt she needed to include a bit of edge. The bluntness of those scenes just didn’t ‘fit’ with the rest of the book. I suspect she was trying to magnify the earnest love vs lust thing but it just didn’t work for me.

Hannan starts the books from Mina’s point of view but we flick to Elaine at one point and I really enjoyed the juxtaposition (sorry, too much wanky Uni stuff) of their versions of events and the clever intersection of their stories.

I also very much appreciated that Hannan didn’t eke out decisions Mina made about Jack, or Elaine’s decision to share her story with Mina. It kept the pacing of the novel consistent and me turning pages.

I found the reveal around Elaine’s isolation a little anticlimactic I must admit as it didn’t entirely make sense (to me). Ultimately however this is a book about mothers and daughters, about secrets, about disappointment and expectations. Importantly it’s a book about love and the things we do (and don’t do) for love.

This would most likely be a good book club book as it offers a few moral dilemmas (What would YOU do?) and I realise most people would probably appreciate some of the rawness of the sex scenes.

* Incidentally, the book’s name is taken from the song and the point is made that ‘Kokomo’ is not really a tropical island. The song is misleading and offers a false promise. Which I guess and in some ways that could be a metaphor for the events of this book. Though (in reality) no promises are made… 

Kokomo by Victoria Hannan was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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