Title- The Lauras
Author- Sara Taylor
Length- 3o4 pages
Synopsis- I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong.
As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she’d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept – even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn’t forget the home we’d left behind, couldn’t deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business.
This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex’s mother’s life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child.
Review- As the above says this book follows a child, Alex (not Laura), and a mother, (also not Laura) as they travel across the US. It is told by Alex, in the past tense.
I thought this book was going to be a little slow, with sweet, but not desperately thrilling stories of the mother’s life growing up. I guess if I had noticed the part about foster care in the synopsis I wouldn’t have thought this, but I didn’t so there you go!
This is a great book! As they travel we are effectively taken back in time as the mother recounts the stories of her childhood, the things she did, and the people she met, many of them called Laura!! The stories themselves are all interesting, and some pretty shocking. Often with books like this where there are multiple miniature, distinct, stories within them, they are of variable quality with some being pretty dull, but not here. Given that Alex is still a child, a teenager, despite the travel, school is still required so the mother’s stories are interspersed with a few relating to Alex’s schooling. Again these are interesting and their inclusion within the rest of the story is well done.
The other main theme in this book is gender identity. At the start, given the name of the book and the gender of the parent I assumed the child, Alex, was a girl. About 50 pages in I realised that actually, he/she etc had never been used in relation to Alex, with “child” or “kid” favoured instead. The behaviours and thoughts of Alex described, make you think he/she is female one minute, and then male the next. There is one part which biologically seems to clearly suggest one gender over the other, but the description in other parts of the book strongly suggest the other, so it is difficult to say. I am not the only one wondering about Alex’s gender, there are frequent questions about it from other characters in the book. Alex states that he/she has no gender more than once, and sees no need to be defined in this way. Perhaps the character never had a gender, the book doesn’t make it necessary for the author to have decided on one. I have never read a book with this sort of issue before and I found it really interesting.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it, it wasn’t what I was expecting, I actually nearly didn’t pick it up. The pace of the book is good and consistent, and there is just the right amount of detail about each event.
Anyone else read it?