Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: The Lauras

The Lauras The Lauras by Sara Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An escape. A road trip. A pilgrimage to understand one and discover the other. In The Lauras, a woman is faced with the need to get away from her life, and in doing so pulls her child Alex with her. The relationship between mother and child grows and develops as they hit the open road, both trying to find different things while still holding onto the best parts of their individual pasts.

Although the story is told through Alex, it is Alex's mom's stories that are prominent throughout the book. These stories about all the different Lauras (a generic name given to all of the transformative women in Ma's life) are sort of destinations on the map across the United States. In each stop that the pair make, there is a quest or a task that Ma must complete before she and her child can move onto the next phase of the journey. It is through these stories that Alex learns about Ma and her childhood, and intertwines Alex's own story of growing up in the present. All of Alex's needs and all of Ma's secrets play a delicate tug of war to provide plenty of interesting moments in the novel.

The one aspect of this book that seems to settle in the background until on a few occasions it is brought to the forefront is the fact that Alex wants to remained untethered by gender identification. The key to reading the story of Alex is to push yourself past the assumptions you make while you are reading the story. I know that I found it difficult to not put Alex in a box, based on the actions Alex took and things Alex thought throughout the novel. I had a clear idea in my mind who Alex was at the beginning, but as the novel went on, it morphed and I turned out second guessing my original thoughts about who Alex could be. I even skimmed the novel after reading it to see if the author provided any hint as to how Alex couldn't fall into at least one gender stereotype to give away the answer, but Taylor was great at crafting Alex the way Alex wanted to be portrayed.

That's the whole idea of Alex's side of the story--if you want to respect Alex's narrative, you must give up trying to figure out whether Alex is male or female. Alex doesn't want it to matter to the story, so it shouldn't matter to the reader. With or without it, it's a good story of family, of adventure and the need to know whether the definition of home is within a place or within yourself.

*Book provided by Blogging for Books

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