TITLE: THE LAURAS
Author: SARA TAYLOR
Publisher: HOGARTH PRESS
Release Date: 1 August 2017
Genres: COMING OF AGE/ LITERARY FICTION
A Cross-Country Trip to Escape Marriage, Revisit Old Friends, and To Experience Life
This was a coming-of-age story about the remarkable and meaningful cross country trip that the gender-ambiguous Alex and her mother, whom she calls Ma, took to escape marriage life to revisit Ma’s past and to experience independence and discover themselves along the way. It starts off with Alex’s parents having a fight in the middle of the night at their home in Virginia (it is mentioned in the book that they had been fighting for quite some time up to the moment when Ma comes for Alex’s bedroom and steal her away in the early hours of the morning to go on their three-year cross-country journey from the East Coast to the West). Alex herself is just thirteen and she is described as lean and young still without a bra, who is the narrator of this first person point of view tale. They make frequent stops during their trip either to eat, to shower and change clothes, or for Ma to look for employment to finance their odyssey and for Alex to get the education she needs by enrolling at local schools located near their motels they would spend their time at.
The story is steady and it shows life on the road where these two characters struggle to survive while they revisit friends or people related to friends of Ma’s. There is also the concept of all of Ma’s significant friends all named Laura because according to Ma, her first ever best friend was a Laura and she made a huge impact in her life that for the rest of her life she was drawn to girls and women who coincidentally had that name. That is the main theme of this book and why it is called The Lauras. But in actuality, Ma’s friends are not all called Laura though. This book explores Ma’s past life as a foster kid, a rowdy teenager, and a college student. That is the impetus for the stops she makes along the trip where she discovers that an old guy friend had died and that his girlfriend/wife who had been a friend of Ma’s also killed herself because of her own troubles with motherhood. And Ma had to do something for these friends of hers because she promised them to do it at a point in her life. There are other friends and places and secrets Ma shows Alex during their journey but there are also Alex’s stories of her own that this book explores.
Alex is a teenager who is just beginning to feel changes in her body and sexual arousal from looking at older teenagers and through magazines and reference books she reads that are a part of her homeschooling education. Alex also has her own identity issues that make this book a transgender-themed read. She is bullied and gets into fights at school because of this and her mother stands up for her which I found very admirable because some parents just would automatically disown their transgendered or gay children and chase them out to be on their own. That and other reasons are what I like about Ma. Even though she is the type of woman that sleeps around and takes up employment at bars and other questioning places, she never fails to instill in Alex healthy habits and a good raising. Even though Ma herself had a tumultuous childhood and yeah, a promiscuous life, she does not want the same for Alex as she stresses the importance of finishing school and cleanliness upon Alex. Ma is also protective of Alex and would shield her from dangerous situations she herself would get into.
The book is very much satisfying over its course and although there was an incident that caused me to raise my eyebrows and shake my head in disapproval, I know it is life and it happens and if I was in the same situation I would do it as well in order to survive because life in America is hard and cruel. The good thing about Alex also is that she makes an effort, yes, a huge effort to always keep in touch with her father that she and Ma left behind. I recommend this book to all those bookworms who are looking for a solid, eventful, and adolescent read to delve into. It’s got hardships, it’s got guts, it’s got drama, it’s got triumph, and it’s got lessons and issues to ponder on. This is a tale of survival and struggle that everyone who loves challenges would devour. I had a great time reading it and am positive that you will feel the same. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.