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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Coal is a slice-of-life story written by Dave von Beck. Rummaging through an old box in the basement of his childhood home in Seattle, forty-two-year-old Ken discovers a collection of letters saved by his older sister Carole Priscilla Sharpe, a.k.a. Cole. Eight years ago, his beloved sister died of cancer around Ken's current age. He has always floated through life. With no family of his own or a stable job, Ken pursued a life of ultimate freedom. However, as he reads Cole's letters, he realizes that there was much more to her life than he knew. Ken decides to renovate the old house and begins a committed relationship with a lovely nurse named Carol. But he soon discovers that Carol might be too uninhibited even for him.
A tale of self-discovery filled with nostalgia, warmth, and charm, Coal is an absorbing read that deftly showcases the unpredictable depths of human beings. This is slow-burn storytelling at its finest. A character-driven drama at its core, the narrative follows Ken, an easy-going man who is still searching for his purpose in life. Author Dave von Beck masterfully captures Ken's love for his deceased sister and uses her life as a mirror to portray the things missing from Ken's life. I also found it interesting to see the parallels between Carol and Cole's relationships with married women. There is a sense of wholesomeness to the story that makes Coal riveting to read. I recommend it to readers who enjoy slice-of-life stories.