My mom and I have a great relationship. It’s developed over the years with mutual support, and she’s taken to telling me stories about herself when she was growing up. It’s this aspect of my life that drove me to try to read the book “The Lauras” by Sara Taylor.
“The Lauras” follows Alex, an agender – from what I gathered – kid going on a sudden trip with their mom. The meat of the book is the stories Alex’s mom tells them, first about different girls named Laura, and then about her own life. I’m not going to get down and dirty with a synopsis since the book’s summary covers the story really well:
“From critically acclaimed and Baileys Prize-nominated author Sara Taylor comes a dazzling new novel about youth, identity, and family secrets
“After a fight with Alex’s father, Ma pulls Alex out of bed and onto a pilgrimage of self-discovery through her own enthralling past. Guided by a memory map of places and people from Ma’s life before motherhood, the pair travels from Virginia to California, each new destination and character revealing secrets, stories, and unfinished business. As Alex’s coming-of-age narrative unfolds across the continent, we meet a cast of riveting and heartwarming characters including brilliant Annie, who seeks the help of Ma and Alex to escape the patriarchal cult in which she was raised, and the tragic young Marisol, whose dreams of becoming a mother end in heartbreak.
“Slowly, Alex begins to realizes that the road trip is not a string of arbitrary stops, but a journey whose destination is perhaps Ma’s biggest secret of all. Told from the perspective of Alex, a teenager who equates gender identification with unwillingly choosing a side in a war, and written with a stunningly assured lyricism, The Lauras is a fearless study of identity, set against the gorgeously rendered landscape of North America.”
I must confess… I couldn’t finish this book. I’ve read up until the last 50 pages, and after that I didn’t care about it anymore. Every time I tried to pick it up again, all I could think was, “I’d rather be doing something else. Anything else.”
A huge contributor is the main character. Who is the main character? All I know are details about how they feel about things, people, and themself. When Alex actually took action, like when they went to a different state to send a letter to their father and hitchhiked back, only then did I feel like the story was going places. Alex had a motivation, and took the initiative to drive the plot! However, it didn’t last long and then it was back to feeling and thoughts. During most of the book, the best parts were Ma’s stories about her life.
There was itchy issue that encompasses both Alex’s mother’s stories and Alex’s; topics that felt forced. The author tackles subjects like feminism, lesbianism, gender, the church system, and the patriarchy. Yes, I agree that what happened to Annie and her mother was sad, and happy that Annie could get out of her situation. Because issues like the church system and feminism pushed the storyline further, it didn’t feel forced. In fact, this part of the book is good! And Ma’s sexuality didn’t feel over-emphasized, and was a good way to introduce new characters through Alex listening to her stories.
The problem I have here is when an argument is being stated when it doesn’t affect the storyline. A side story is fine here and there, and when it reveals something about Ma’s character, even better! But some of the stories feel redundant.
It’s been a while since I’d given the book a good look, and I’m not keen on doing so now. At this point? I just want to move on from it.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.