Ashes in a Coconut
by Bo Kearns
Moonshine Cove Publishing

"Her family expected her to return to the States. They argued it was safer there. But safety was no guarantee anywhere. And she no longer considered the place where she grew up to be her home."

When Laura leaves behind her ambitions to save her marriage by moving to Indonesia with her husband, she discovers more about herself and her marriage than she ever did in New York City. She expects a getaway that will strengthen the bond between herself and her husband, Jack. Instead, she’s met with obstacles that put their relationship to the test when Jack falls into corrupt dealings in an attempt to save the Indonesian bank he has been entrusted with as president. The longer they stay, the wider the gap between them grows as the bank’s interests conflict with Laura’s values and a newfound love she discovers—saving the rainforest and its endangered primates.

Kearns accurately depicts the cultural differences between the U.S and Indonesia. He uses his travel experience during his career in international finance to explore life in Indonesia during the 1980s. The landscape is brought to life, not only as Kearns characterizes the culture of Indonesia but also through Laura and Jack. Laura is eager to learn the language and mannerisms of the country, marvels at the call to prayer heard at the crack of dawn, and accepts and admires the superstitious culture. In contrast, Jack finds many aspects of life in Indonesia cumbersome.

In a way, Laura finds herself. However, Jack loses himself when his moral compass is tarnished in more ways than one. Laura learns that, even though she cannot work as an expatriate, her fashion design ambitions that she left behind can still find a home in Indonesia—one that brings hope for many Indonesian women in need of work to support their families. Laura’s transformation over Jack’s change of character is what makes this novel successful in its character-driven focus.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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