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  • She Writes Press News: Announcing THE COCONUT LATITUDES by Rita Gardner
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She Writes Press News: Announcing THE COCONUT LATITUDES by Rita Gardner
Written by
Cait Levin
January 2014
Written by
Cait Levin
January 2014

The Coconut Latitudes is about a childhood in paradise, a journey into unexpected misery and a twisted path to redemption and truth. It begins with the story of an American family attempting a new life on a Caribbean island after World War II. Leaving a successful career in the U.S., a father makes a fateful decision to move his family to an isolated beach in the Dominican Republic. He plants ten thousand coconut seedlings, transplants his wife and two young daughters and declares they are the luckiest people alive. 

In reality, the family is in the path of hurricanes and in the grip of a brutal dictator. The children are additionally under the thumb of an increasingly volatile and alcoholic father and a mother who loses her bearings along the way. Set against a backdrop of shimmering palms and kaleidoscope sunsets, a crisis causes the family, already fragile, to further implode. The Coconut Latitudes is about surviving a reality far from the envisioned Eden and the terrible cost of keeping secrets. A cross-cultural coming-of-age story, this compelling memoir balances a child’s wonder with adult compassion, ultimately revealing the transformative power of truth and an opening to acceptance and grace. 

Rita Gardner grew up on her expatriate family’s coconut farm in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Living in a remote coastal village, she was home-schooled and began reading, writing, and painting at a young age. She returned to Florida to finish school and later moved to the bay region of Northern California where she follows her passions – trail hiking, traveling, writing, and photography. Her published essays, articles, and poems have appeared in literary journals, travel magazines, and newspapers. Her photographs show in galleries and other venues. She continues to dream in Spanish, dance the merengue, and gather inspiration from the ocean; her favorite color is Caribbean blue.

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  • Sande Boritz Berger

    Congratulations Rita, and thanks for the tip ( during phone conf.) with regard to publicity. BTW...I love the merengue!



  • Janey Skinner

    I'm so glad to know your book is coming out.  I have a feeling this is a story that will connect with many people.  I look forward to reading it!

  • Lucille Joyner

    You have the soul of an artist.

  • Betsy Teutsch

    Is it available?

  • Lisa Thomson

    Sounds fascinating, thrilling, scary and spectacular. Phew, a must read.

  • Jennifer L Myers

    Sounds wonderful! I spent two years living in the Dominican Republic from 93-95 as a Peace Corps volunteer.

  • Rossandra White

    You've got me hooked! Congrats.

  • Julie Luek

    Sounds like a definite on my to-read list! Thanks for sharing.