Growing up can feel like a death sentence
Life in a troubled neighbourhood demands too much too young. But Sonny wouldn’t really know.
Watching the world from her bedroom window, she exists only in second-hand romance novels and falls for any fast-food employee who happens to spare her a glance.
Everything changes with the return of Vince, a boy who became a legend after he was hauled away in handcuffs at fourteen.
Sonny and Vince used to be childhood friends. But with all that happened in-between, childhood seems so long ago. It will take two years of juvie, an inebriated grandmother and a porn stash for them to meet again.
The Coconut Children is an urgent, moving and wise debut from a young and gifted storyteller.
“You’d have to go back to Carson McCullers’s debut to find such an accomplished and original voice in a writer so young. I’ve seen Vivian Pham stun an audience of 2000 with her oratory and original thinking on colonialism and the burden of history, and now she stuns on the page in this deeply felt and intimate coming-of-age novel. She shows a new Australia here, tied to her place and time but touching on universal themes of longing – and the alternately profound and ludicrous angst of youth. Vivian Pham is one of the indispensable voices of her generation.”
“This is an outstanding debut about love, memory, community and finding your place in a beautiful and heartbreaking world. Pham is a master at showing that all people are complex, contradictory and difficult to define. The characters in The Coconut Children will linger on in your mind like a great open-ended question.”
Felicity Castagna, author of No More Boats, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award
“In lyric slivers as sharp as the ‘blade of water’ refugees cross in the novel’s preface, Pham maps the shape and grain of fierce and fragile resilience against intergenerational trauma, secrets and desire. The momentum of this novel, its originality, energy and verve, are extraordinary. Vivian Pham is, without doubt, a major new talent.”
“To read Vivian Pham is to read the future of Australian writing. What a brilliant, self-contained bolt of pure teenage genius. Be prepared to be awed over what Gen Z can deliver.”
“You can smell and taste this book – a vivid picture of Cabramatta in all its late millennium glory and grit. Vivian Pham goes straight to the important things in life – food, family, friendship, freedom, sex, love and death. The writing is full of grace and courage – fierce, frank and funny. And the tale keeps twisting ‘til the end.”
“The Coconut Children is an incredible achievement. Pham writes with a poetic intensity and maturity that belies her young age. Pham delivers a frank insight into the complicated lives of these endearing characters and weaves plenty of humour throughout. An amazing debut!”
Naomi Vagg, Good Reading Magazine