Sara Taylor: The Lauras

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.

The Lauras is the new novel from the exceptionally gifted author of The Shore, which was long listed for the Baileys Women s Fiction Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

The Lauras is a journey story told from the perspective of a 13 year old kid, whose mother grabs them out of bed one night and pulls them into a trip around the US to resolve her own demons. Alex is fighting against puberty, coming to terms with her sexuality, and then has to figure out what the hell her mother is even doing! This makes for an extremely interesting roadtrip with an unreliable narrator–since they are never quite up to speed on where they are heading.

One main point of the book is Alex’s genderlessness, as they refer to it themselves. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty major point of contention. Alex is in and out of school, which would cause anyone to struggle to fit in, but as a nonbinary teen, it’s especially difficult. Kids are so cruel. There are sections of this book that will be triggering to those who are gender fluid or nonbinary.

Another part of hitting puberty is figuring out our sexuality. Alex is pansexual–right from the beginning of the book they tell us that they find everyone attractive regardless of gender. Her mother is at least bisexual, and I loved seeing so much queer representation in this book. Taylor did such a fantastic job of showing LGBTQIA+ issues in The Lauras.

Everything was so emotionally dense, from one state to another. I mentioned before that the narration was unreliable–Alex’s mother never really gives them the whole story, and so we never get the whole story. However, it’s all part of the journey the pair is taking. I loved the bond that grew between mother and teen, I loved watching Alex grow into themselves. It was just such a deep ride.

Hogarth and Blogging for Books provided a copy of this book for honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

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