Kokomo by Victoria Hannan is a novel of a mother and a daughter dealing with grief, love and yearning while learning to see each other as more than what their imagination created. The book opens in London with Mina receiving the news that her agoraphobic mother in Melbourne left the house after twelve years minutes before given the man she believes to be the love of her life a blow job. In 24 hours, Mina finds herself back in her childhood home to find that her mother, Elaine, refuses to explain why she finally left the house.
While back in Melbourne, Mina revisits her old friends which allowed for the narrative to weave the past and the present to give us a deeper understanding of Mina and how she was never given proper time to grieve her father’s death. Mina does not realise it at first, but she too was stuck in her own type of agoraphobic life where she believed that the people she left behind would be same when she left Melbourne and her mother.
Hannan examines the parts of adulthood that usually are ignored from the narrative of ‘growing up. — grief, moving on and seeing parents as humans. Mina’s pain was embedded in sad anger — with her father’s death, her dead to society mother, at the world for forcing her to become a caretaker too early and working hards means nothing with sexism in a workplace.
The book is split into three parts between two characters, Mina and Elaine. When we reach Elaine’s side of the story, the reader is shown a woman that we’ve only gotten to know through scorn and discontent. In these pages, we learn that it is easy to forget the difference between love and yearning, revealing a mirror to what Mina’s life could have been if she stayed in London and pursued Jack. Elaine’s story was what gave Kokomo that ‘whoa’ moment — reminding the reader that parents were individuals with stories, baggage and depth to them before they became a mum or dad.
Much like Mina’s story, Elaine struggles handling being dissatisfied with life and not knowing if she really loves her husband who treasures the ground she walks on. We learned that Elaine believed she was in love with someone else, someone who she happened to meet by chance and planned her whole life around to near him and remain hopeful that one day he would finally return the same love back.
Mother and daughter both have a desperate desire for longing and to be needed by someone through their own perspective is what made the novel so impressively powerful.
This Australian novel has the heart to become a classic in literature as it shows us the different types of depths that exist in women that live in a man driven world.
This book was given to me by Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: 28 July 2020
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Personal Rating: 4.5/5