In his debut novel, Chluho spins a cerebral coming-of-age tale set on a faraway, fictional island in the Pacific.
A young boy washes ashore on the island of Ahio with no idea how he came to be there and no recollection of his name. The only thing he recalls is a now-missing bag with a few possessions in it. He is discovered by three men, the most powerful people on the island: Father Rene, the priest; Barnett, the sugar plantation owner; and Ahiga, the warrior. These three men become, each in turn, a father figure to the amnesiac boy, whom Barnett’s daughter, Chloe, dubs “Lemonade.” The three men don’t exactly see eye to eye, which causes some distress across the island since they are the ones who’ve been left to care for the island’s people after the king and all of his family are lost at sea, possibly due to the treachery of a rival nation. It is up to Lemonade to unearth the secrets of his past, if he can find his lost bag before the island descends into chaos. The story moves at a smooth, unhurried pace, the narrative seeming more philosophical parable than immersive fiction. Often, characters tend to fulfill certain archetypal roles rather than existing as individuals in their own rights. That said, no one is all good or all bad, and each has an interesting twist to his or her personality. The story also jumps back and forth in time, a device here that often becomes confusing. Fortunately, the prose makes for an overall pleasant reading experience, if not always an exciting or engaging one.
A relaxing, thoughtful read that would benefit from paying more attention to character and plot rather than philosophical depths.