The Lauras

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The Lauras
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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.


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    Sara Taylor - The Lauras

    After a fierce fight with her husband decides Ma to wake up Alex and to leave their home in Virginia. The two of them go on a trip into the mother’s past. She has got a map on which stations of her life are marked. People she met, places she lived, events that shaped her life and character. During their trip, Ma tells Alex about the “Lauras” she has known. Her first real best friend, the girl from the foster home, her flatmate at college. They drive criss-cross through the states, sometimes they stop incidentally, sometimes the mother has a duty to fulfil or to settle an old bill. She accepts any job offered to make some money and to continue their journey. They actually do have a final destination, but it takes more than a year for Alex to finally understand where they are heading to.

    Sara Taylors novel “The Lauras” is a mixture of genres. On the one hand, we have a classic road novel. Alex, the narrator, and Ma cross several state borders and stop here and there, meet people, leave them again, always on the run. On the other hand, it is a coming of age novel. Alex is only 13 in the beginning and hardly knows anything about the world. But most of all, Alex is struggling with her/his identity, sometime she feels like a girl, sometimes he is much more a boy. And thirdly, it is a novel about relationships, not just between parent and child, but also between grown-ups and how living on a limited space can change your bonds.

    There is some lesson to be learned for Alex. In their encounter with Anna-Maria, it becomes obvious how your environment decides on your view of the world and the development. In a reclusive sectarian world, most of our world simply does not exist. Additionally, mistakes in your life can be corrected at a later point. And sometimes the journey is the reward, not the goal you are heading for or as Sara Taylor puts it: “I realized that what I felt was a sort of anti-homesickness, a sick-of-home homesickness, that home for me was a place I was going to, rather than a place I could occupy.” (Pos. 2935).


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