The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras

Sara Taylor

The Lauras is a beautifully rendered story of motherhood and youth, of independence and bravery, set against some of the most beautiful places in the United States.

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Shortlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year

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. 

Advance Galley Reviews

I was looking over my disappointing 2017 Book Challenge attempt and discovered I'd never written a review for this book. Perhaps it's because I had just moved to South Carolina and was still settling in. During that time I was a tiny bit overwhelmed, what with the fourteen hour move from family and unpacking a home of sixteen years that was condensed into many clear, plastic boxes. Then, I had to discover my beautiful surroundings. Moving to South Carolina on gorgeous Lake Marion was a dream come true. And, with Charleston nearby, my reading life took a nosedive. I can't say I was in a reading slump. I was just awed by nature and all that it offered. I managed to finish very few books in the six, short months my husband and I lived in paradise. That's not to say my lovely books weren't calling out to me. Mistress, please come sit and visit with us. We have so much to tell you! Just look at our marvelous bookcovers and select one. We'd love to sit with you in the hammock beside the lake and entertain you. Please! We are so lonesome for our lady. Yet, there they continued to sit. I did manage to acquire several stunning books in South Carolina while scouting quaint vintage stores and antique shops. I visited a fair share of bookstores, too. However, I somehow managed to miss the one bookstore I desired to visit the most: Litchfield Books of Pawleys Island. I could kick myself for letting the opportunity pass me by. You see, I was visiting this lovely little island village with my husband. He is not the booklover that I am, therefore, I didn't insist we go. I should have, but I thought I'd have plenty of opportunities to return. Sadly, regrettably, I was ever so wrong. Happily ensconced at my wonderful lake home in July, by the end of November my husband's job would be relocating us once again. Currently, I'm right where I started this musical chair-like existence. Christmas will be spent with family in southwest Louisiana. After New Year's, preparations will be in the works for another move, this time westward. It is all very stressful, and because the majority of my precious books remain boxed and stored away, I don't have as much time to read as I once did. What a luxury it is for one to read, to have a permanent shelf to display one's collection! Meantime, our cottage home sits unfinished, sad and stalled whilst its owners grapple with geography. Here is where I relate to the wanderings of the young girl and her restless mother of THE LAURA'S. It has been several months since I've completed this e-galley, compliments of Penguin's First to Read program, so my brain may be a bit foggy upon reflection. I do remember being mildly intrigued by the story and I recall struggling to rate my overall reading experience. First, I did not connect to any of the characters and the young protagonist was confusing. Let's just say we were both confused; me, because I didn't know how to identify to or with said protag, and her because she appeared to be confused about a great many things in general. For starters, the young protag did not identify male or female and, while this in no way held up the storyline, it often drove me crazy. Let's just say that our character was on the metaphorical road to self discovery. I say this because Taylor has the mother and child stealing away from home like criminals, the mother running away from an unhappy marriage and taking her child along for the ride, crisscrossing the U.S. on a mission to heal old wounds and finish unresolved business with the past. The reader visits the past transgressions of the mother at each new stop but I never felt the story entirely explained itself. Along the way, mother and child learn to live on the road, rarely settling long enough to make connections or to be located, but each coming away with a better understanding of one another. In the end, the long and winding road will lead one home but the journey of exploration is just beginning for the other. While I wasn't blown away by anything that took place during this read, I was entertained. As I mentioned, I found it difficult to rate my time spent with this odd duo. The mother was so aloof and disconnected, very unmotherly. The young teen was a bundle of curiosity and confusion. Often times I found myself in a depressed state of mind after several chapters. The subject matter is not dark but life on the road, aimlessly wandering to and fro, left me rather cold. Other times, I enjoyed the long car ride and couldn't wait for the road trip to reveal itself. I ended the book with a sigh and a smile so I decided that the adventure was worth the four star journey. I feel like this is one of those books that falls in the category of not-for-everyone. Definitely a moody read. *Copy provided courtesy of Penguin's First to Read program, which by the way, is getting harder and harder to receive DRC's. Glad the program has evolved and other's are enjoying the benefits of DRC, but it would be nice to use my points that are now reaching astronomical numbers. Perhaps FTR should make more copies available. Obviously, when a program's audience expands so must the availability of options. I'm thinking of leaving the program altogether but what to do with accumulated points? #problemsofabooklover

This seemed like an promising read. However, I could not get into it and found myself abandoning it halfway through. It would depend on individual tastes however.

Interesting read. Many different dynamics. The mother/daughter. The confused kid trying to figure out who and what they are. The history the mother has with the "Laura's". Compelling at times. Some of the sex was uncomfortable to read. Good writing and interesting characters.

"The Lauras" by Sara Taylor is the novel about a child's journey across America as Alex learns his mother's past and present. Alex, a non-gender pre-teen, is the child of a mother who is constantly needing to be on the move. She had lived a life of constant movement in both foster homes, her parents series of moving, and group homes. She leaves his father and their home abruptly in the middle of the night without much plan other than to make good on promises made 20 years before. Alex gets to know his mother in a way that most people don't think about. Do you really know your mother? Do you know her past? Really? The writing in this book is amazing. The characters are enthralling. I originally was just reading it when another book I was reading grew tiring, but couldn't put this one down. I highly recommend this book. I can't figure out why the star average isn't much higher. It does have some sexual content, including an assault, so it might be for the adult crowd. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from I posted this review to my blog and amazon.

WARNING: This review contains SPOILERS The parents have been fighting again. Then the 13-year old child is pulled out of bed by a mother. The mother grabs the packed backpack which has been sitting by the front door forever. The mother and child jump in the car and take off. Where are they going? How long will they be gone? Only the mother knows, and she does not share much with the child, neither at the time of departure nor at any time throughout the journey. What the mother does share, sometimes, is stories from her childhood. The mom mostly had a hard life, moving from home to home until she was old enough to run away and continue moving on her own. Until she stopped moving to live in the house with the husband and the child. Over 13 years in the same place must be a record for the mother. By the end of the story, I began wondering if it would also be a record for the child. The child’s name is Alex. The name is as gender-ambiguous as is the child. Having read the whole book, I still don’t know if Alex was born biologically male or female. Teenaged Alex is confused and curious and ambivalent. Teenaged Alex dresses in jeans and sneakers and hair in the eyes. Teenaged Alex secretly lets the father know they’re okay via hastily scribbled postcards and even a quick phone call one time. The road trip seems to have an itinerary, albeit one which the mother keeps in her head. She is completing some kind of bucket list, traveling to places she has lived before to either pass on a message or to keep a promise or to exact revenge. At each waystation, they rent a cheap apartment and the mother earns money by waitressing or bartending and the kid works to finish school and wonders about the mother’s secrets and works through the typical teenage angst, made so much more difficult due to questions about sexual orientation and permanent transient status. Most of the important females in the mother’s stories are called Laura. I believe that this is because she couldn’t, or chose not to, remember all of their names. When the mother & child finally pull into a driveway in the state of Washington, the road trip seems to be at an end. Laura lives there, and the mother has decided to stay there and live with Laura. The kid decides to go back to the father, and so leaves his mother at Laura’s home. There was enough money to take a bus for a portion of the trip, then there was hitchhiking or stopping to somehow acquire enough money for another bus ticket. But the father is no longer living in the house where the mother and child had lived with him. The kid is able to track the father down, tracing him through two moves to the apartment where the father is then living. Both father and child are happy to be reunited, and the joy of being together again lasts for some time. But then the kid begins to experience the same restlessness that the mother had felt. Whether inherited at birth or acquired on the road trip, the child cannot be happy staying in one place for long. The father recognizes this, and the book ends with the father and child saying goodbye. The child sets out again, destination unclear. The story is well-crafted, but none of the characters, in my opinion, is portrayed as likeable enough to inspire the reader to endure the seemingly never-ending road trip. I’m not sure I would have finished if I had not promised to review the book. A unique and moving book, but rather dark for my taste. I received an advance copy from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

I admit I didn't finish this one. At first I liked it pretty well, and then the sex started to get really explicit and I got pretty grossed out. I can live with the occasional sex scene, but it was too much in this case. Too bad, because I did like the writing at first.

I really enjoyed the beginning to this book. How Alex felt was heartbreaking. Later in the book, the sections that focused on Alex trying to figure out their gender were also compelling. Unfortunately, the sex scenes did not work for me, and there were many of them that I felt distracted from the rest of the story.

The Lauras, by Sara Taylor, is more than a road trip of a mother and her child, it is a journey of discovery-discovery of themselves, of each other, and the importance of accepting who you are. One night, unexpectedly and without explanation, Ma wakes Alex, packs up the car, and they both head out on a rambling road trip that makes no sense to Alex. As their time on the road goes on, it seems that Ma is tying up loose ends, fulfilling promises and reconnecting with her past. She shares bits and pieces of that past with Alex, who tries to put everything together to get a better sense of the person Ma is. Alex is also dealing with typical teenage problems-puberty, angst, and discovering oneself, all while on the road and constantly moving, a challenge for anyone. The Lauras was a charming story of family, identity, and acceptance. The gender neutral Alex is a great narrator because the neutrality allows the focus to remain on the bigger issues presented, issues that don't know gender and that everyone can relate to. And while at first it may seem that Ma is living in or chasing down her past, what she is really doing is bringing closure to much of it. Both characters are strong and independent, but also flawed. They make mistakes, but they also try to do good. The Lauras is not the kind of book I would normally choose to read, but I was not disappointed. It was well written and definitely made me reflect on the choices I've made in my life, the people I've known and the places I've been, and how all of that has helped shape me in to the person I am today. A worthwhile read.

Sara Taylor's novel "The Lauras" begins in a normal enough fashion through the point of view of a teenage narrator that is struggling to understand what is happening as much as the reader is. But page after page, as Alex's world opens up so does the reader's and we are all sucked into a world filled with danger, confusion, pain, as well as redemption, love, and hope. The events in the novel are graphic and explicitly written, which may make it inappropriate for younger readers. However, the character development is deep and meaningful and the bond between mother and child is powerfully depicted. The story may be titled after the influential friends of Alex's mother, however the main strength is in the relationship between Ma and Alex.

This book was not what I was expecting based upon the description given. I thought the story was a coming of age mother daughter road trip, but unfortunately it was a story with graphic sex scenes and a character who was searching for their gender identity. I could not finish reading this book for these reasons.

This story unfolded like the a spontaneous road-trip; you never quite knew where the author was going with the story and when you'd get there. There were parts of this story that were compelling and others that were confusing and a bit slow to read. I enjoyed the coming of age story of Alex throughout their journey and of the mother through her tales of youth. I loved that Alex was gender neutral and while the rest of the world tried to assign an identity, the author wrote us a truly pansexual character. I believe this is the first pansexual character I've encountered where the author didn't introduce the character's biological sex and I loved that about the story. Alex's mother's stories involving each of the Lauras were interesting, and yet I didn't feel that they where the heart of the book as the title would suggest. Alex and her mother's lives were also a huge departure from my normal life and at times this was not an easy read. However, ultimately I still enjoyed this book and wanted to know the fate of the characters.

The title and the description were a little confusing after I read the book. The Lauras, even if they were part of the stories, are not the main focus of the book. Alex was a very strong character and Ma made me realize there are a lot of mothers out there with their own agendas dragging their kids with them, without ever thinking about their needs.

This is one of the few books that I've ever read in my lifetime where you don't know if the character is a boy or a girl for the entire book. It made me think of transgender issues currently in the news. Alex, and his/her mom leave the house one night and set off across the USA, crisscrossing back and forth visiting different people from her/his mom's past. It's a coming of age story where you grow up fast and have to be the adult when the adults aren't being grownups. It was a different book and it kept me reading to see what would happen.

An interesting narrator, a pretty standard coming of age/ travel story, and writing that's at times compelling (and others lags.) Alex, when the story begins, is thirteen years old, and when it ends, it seventeen. At the start, Alex is pretty self absorbed, giving to sulking, and doesn't really understand why the mother hauls them out of their life (house, father, jobs, school) and begins a long road trip, stopping here and there to earn cash, or visit people from the mother's past. As they travel, the mother tells Alex a few stories from her younger years--including the Lauras she'd known--friends, companions, loves--and these stories say more about the mother's needs and personality and life than you might expect. Just like their journey, sometimes the narrative wanders, and drags a little between scenes of action. But in between those sticky spots, it has some great things to say about family, love, gender, letting go, and holding on. Alex is agender, and I admired the way the narration avoided making a big deal of it until the people around Alex began to. Not an easy read--there's pain, bullying, lost love, sexual assault, probable prostitution, among more usual family tiffs and sulks, but it also has some quietly thoughtful moments, peaceful family connections, the ache of being a teen, the rush of independence, and the ever-shifting star of wanderlust.

What a fabulously written book that explores the relationship of a mother and her teenager. It's a coming of age story, a road trip and an exploration of past and present. I enjoyed it very much

First off, thanks FTR for this arc in exchange for an honest review. What is my review? Fasten your seat belts for this one! Characters?  It is about a teenager, Alex, who identifies as non-binary & pansexual. I loved the author's gender neutral choice for the main character. The mother on the other hand, behaved like a teenager. There was no real character development. Immaturity all around. They left Alex's dad behind and take off in the middle of the night. Screw him, right? I gave a 1/5 for character development. It was flat with no real depth to any of the characters. I gave it one for creating a non-binary character.  Plot(s)? No clear-cut plots because it's a road trip. At this point, I couldn't care if I was interested. We go on a journey to read about the Lauras that effected the mother's life. She goes on about why she calls them Laura. But that was towards the beginning of the novel. And hey, no reaction after a character has been raped. And you have to read the ending. Nothing holds up the book at all. 1/5 for this one. Grammar?  There is a problem with the "supposed" teenager. Some wonky sentences. And the young teen sounded too grown up for a thirteen-year-old. The main character didn't sound like a teen. 2/5 for this section. Formatting? No struggles with formatting. 5/5 for this section. Book Cover? The book cover is beautiful! That is the one thing I love about the book. 5/5 for the book cover. 1+1+2+5+5=14 or 2.8. For a total of 3/5 stars.  What are my personal thoughts about this book? WARNINGS: Yes, there is a statutory rape scene in the beginning of the novel. If that triggers you, you might want to skip this novel. The next problem I found was an anti-Semite statement made on page 246. If that offends you, you might want to skip this novel. I didn't care for any of the characters by the time I finished this novel. I was truly aggravated with it. At one point the characters helped kidnap "Annie" from her family. The mother acted like a young teenager. She didn't take responsibility for anything. Not to mention, she didn't care if her sixteen-year-old teen left. No stability whatsoever. No conclusion or reaction for the young raped teen. Luckily, I take in account of the book cover and formatting to remain fair.

While the description provided of the book is apt, I think it's mistitled. The Laura's are revealed to be people who were stepping stones through the mother's life and through this road trip book, but it's much less about them than it is about the lives and relationships of this mother and daughter. Ultimately, this is simultaneously the coming of age story of a daughter, paralleled with a coming into one's story of a mother. We follow the duo as they grow and learn about themselves and each other, as the mother traces back through the locations she's lived earlier in life, setting things right where she's able. The mother's nontraditional life choices pave the way for acceptance and standing in defense of her teen daughter, who identifies as non-binary gendered. Both characters were different myself or anyone I've known, yet that's what made them interesting to me: a chance to hear the experiences and voices of people not like me, living lives unlike mine. Thanks for the chance, First to Read!

This is a coming of age novel for the narrator, a gender neutral teen named Alex, as well as a reconciliation story for "Ma" as they travel through the US and Canada. The road trip starts in Virginia after a final fight between Alex's parents. As they travel Alex's mother reveals some of her past and makes stops along the way to resolve unfinished business. Meanwhile, Alex is dealing with the constantly shifting landscape that is the teenage transition from childhood to young adulthood including a blooming awareness of and confusion about sexuality. I found the novel intriguing though several times I was losing interest but something would recapture my attention and I continued to the end. I recommend this book. I received an advance copy from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.

The Lauras is an odd little book...a story of a mother grabbing her child in the middle of the night and setting off on a winding 2-year journey that leads to lots of unexpected people and places. Told through the eyes of the gender-neutral tween-then-teenager whose name we never know, we learn over the course of the journey and the book of Ma's history of restlessness, of wandering, of the people (the "Lauras") and moments who shaped her into who she is now. And also along the journey and the book, we experience "Kid's" people and moments that begin to shape them into who they are becoming. It's a look at how a chain of events kicked off generations ago still impacts the people who came after. There were some really unbelievable things (why did Kid's dad just give up and stop trying to find them?) and other things that didn't seem necessary to the story, and at times those parts almost made me roll my eyes and give up on this book. But what pulled me back in was wanting to see where Ma and Kid ended up next. So, final score, I say 3 out of 5 stars.

The Lauras is an interesting coming of age story about Alex, a gender-neutral character, and mother as they travel across North America. Throughout all of this you will, like I did, question the sanity and judgement of Alex's mother. Who in the middle of the night drags Alex into the family car and takes her from the only home they knew. All to go on a cross country trip in this coming of age story, that when in the right mood can give you a bit of wanderlust as well. Certain parts of the story dragged on, and it was hard to keeps tracks of all the Lauras and some of the other side story that Alex’s mother told. But all in all, I enjoy the story of Alex, a point of view that isn’t brought of often in stories. Being there with Alex and their up and downs, with going through life in a world that wanted them to fit in a particular mold (even facing violence at school because a group of kids were able to come to terms with Alex neutrality). I enjoyed Sara Taylor ‘The Lauras’ as much as I enjoyed her other book. Received this book from Penguin First To Read.

3 stars Starts as a middle of the night road trip - mother and child are on an adventure. It becomes apparent that the Mother - referred to as Ma throughout the book - is looking to make amends or fulfill promises that she had made in her earlier years and is dragging Alex with her. As the road trip takes them through Florida, Georgia, Nevada, California, and into Vancouver they are engaged in fist-fights, kidnapping, breaking and entering, and arson. And that is just Ma's given allotment to this journey. Alex is 14 years old. Alex is gender neutral. A quote from the story sums up Alex's feelings very well. "So all was good in my queer little world until a group decided that, if they couldn’t get me to cop to what variety of crotch giblets I was keeping in my pants, the next best thing would be to catch me naked." Refusing to be labeled or "put in a box" but harassed in school and refusing to state a specific gender, Alex is caught in a handicapped bathroom by a number of fellow students and roughed up while being disrobed. This has a dramatic effect on both Alex and Ma. I felt there were some good parts to this story and also some odd twists in the authors wording that gave me pause, and made me reread passages, finding that a couple of times statements made no sense, not even by tying into the story at a later time. There were also a few time-line slip ups. An example of that is when the story stated that Ma slept until "3 pm in the afternoon, then moved around groggily for awhile" but then just a few paragraphs later stated that "finally at 1 pm Ma began to pack up her things" . Due to these above stated reasons, and others like them, I felt a bit disconnected at times and did not feel that overall the story flowed as well as it could have. Thank you to Penguin First -to-Read and Hogarth Crown Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this novel.

I don't mind either one or the other, but this book has both unlikeable characters, and an ending that really isn't. Are we supposed to care about Alex's journey? Or just accept that Alex is moving on after complaining about moving around with Ma? The combination left me unsatisfied with the book.

I just wasn't in the right place to read such a sad book. I've picked it up several times to read it and I just couldn't connect. Maybe another time I will pick it up and try but for now I had to DNF.

I finished this book several days ago but needed to mull it over before writing my review. When I initially started the book I didn't think I was even going to be able to finish it but as I kept reading the book sort of "grew on me" (no pun intended since it is a coming of age novel). Really didn't know what to expect in regard to the authors' writing style since I had not read her previous novel but that part I truly enjoyed. I kept moving forward with the book because I wanted to see what final direction the story line took but overall I was disappointed. I neither liked nor disliked the novel but if I had been reading it for my own pleasure I probably would have stopped midway and just let my curiosity linger or I would have fast forwarded to the end which I NEVER do, thus the fact that I read the book in its entirety.

I loved Sara Taylor's debut novel The Shore. It was my favorite book of the year and I recommended it to everyone in my book groups and gave copies to my friends. Could The Lauras possibly live up to its predecessor? It did and now I'm even more convinced that Taylor is this generations incarnation of Joyce Carol Oates. The Lauras explores the mother-daughter bond via a road trip that's a grittier version of another favorite, Mona Simpson's terrific Anywhere But Here. Alex is beginning to see her mother as a person. A person that had a life prior to giving birth. That, just like Alex is now, her mom had much to learn about sexuality, relationships and finding her own way through life. That they really aren't so different after all. I highly recommend this book.

This book kept me interested enough to finish it , but unfortunately felt very repetitive at each stop of Ma and Alex's journey.

This book was difficult to read at first because I didn't find the mother to be a very likable character. I was frustrated with what I viewed as dangerous situations that she put her child in, and frustrated that she dragged her child along on this personal journey without giving her child a choice or even an explanation. Although I liked the child better (whom I assumed to be her daughter in the first part of the book), I didn't identify with the child at the beginning of the book. However, all of that changed as I got further into the story. The child became a much more developed character and I loved how the author began by sharing the seemingly typical teenage struggles and then veered into the more unique struggles that the child faced in regard to figuring out her identity. I also began to have more sympathy for the mother and loved how the mother responded to her child's struggles. There were many places in the book where the writing was absolutely beautiful and once I got through the first 40 pages or so, I was drawn into the story more and more, almost as if wave after wave was taking me slowly out to sea. I almost feel that the story was written this way on purpose, to mirror the journey in the book that started out a little more superficially and got deeper the further you went in. I would definitely recommend this book. Some of my favorite passages were on pages 263, the paragraph beginning "The strange sleep cycle..." and on page 127, the paragraph beginning "There were signs of her around the house..." There were many others that I also loved. I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Sara Taylor created a unique story in a genre that's often boring, a coming of age road trip. In this story the author builds both strong character development for the mother and daughter against a sometimes predictable travel story that still delivered some surprises. I really enjoyed it! Thanks for the chance for the advance read!

I found the characters unlikable and the story improbable. This one was a slog.

While the writing style was enjoyable, the content just couldn't keep me invested. The mother seemed particularly unlikeable which led me caring very little about her past.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the chance to read The Lauras by Sara Taylor in exchange for an honest review. The Lauras is a book about a mother and daughter (Alex) who go on a cross country road trip after Alex's mom decides to leave her dad. Along their journey Alex learned of her mother's past, with the foster homes, and friends she made along her journey of life. Alex also deals with her struggles throughout the book, from not wanting to be apart of a group in school, to figuring out who she is as a person. This book was not one of my favorite books or one that I would have picked up in a bookstore, but I am glad that I got a chance to read this book offered by First To Read.

This book is a beauty. I immediately was swept away on the road with Ma and Alex. The writing was gorgeous, such precise, evocative descriptions of place and wise observations from the now grown-up Alex looking back on this road trip experience. I liked how it is mostly Ma's story -- she is "driving" the narrative, so to speak. But we get her story from the perspective of Alex, who is along for the ride while going through adolescence and all the messy realizations that go with it. I appreciated how Alex's gender-fluid identity (her refusal to be categorized as either girl or boy) is a part of the story, but not the whole story. In describing this book, I feel I keep hitting on well-worn categories: road trip, coming-of-age, parent/child relationships. But like Alex, this book is more complex than any category can suggest. The Lauras is a book that will continue to linger with me. And may well be one of my favourite reads of 2017. Thank you Penguin!

The story of the mother-child relationship painted in this book is rich, colorful and complicated. Overall though, the story left me with more questions than answers at the end. The book follows Alex and Mom from Virginia to California to Canada with many stops in between. Each location has a story from Mom's past - some interesting and fully fleshed out, others not so much. I found myself in turn both bored and enthralled. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this book. There were some great lessons in acceptance as well as some fantastic examples of how to be a good and not so good mother. I love the premise of this book, however in the end, it fell short for me.

I received an ARC of The Lauras from First to Read in order to give an honest review. The idea of a mother child road trip sounded fine until you realized the reason for the road trip was a breakup of the family after years of arguments and unrest. During the time together the mother tells stories of her life in foster care and the people she met. The first was named Laura so that is what she called the others. The plan of the trip is for the mother to redeem herself with characters from her past, but the confrontations were confusing and scary for the child. Through the trip, the child misses the dad and wants to go home. One scene during a side trip hitchhiking is gross and adds nothing to the story. The dangers of hitchhiking could have been depicted in some other fashion.. This book is so sad. It has no redeeming factors to it and it is hard to read. I could not like either of the characters in the storyline. I cannot recommend it to other readers. I give it 2 stars.

I'm sorry to say I couldn't finish this book. I wasn't sure it was for me, being a coming of age book, but thought I would try anyway. In the end I didn't connect with the characters(mother or daughter) or the plot . I couldn't identify the book's purpose. I gave up. I just couldn't get past the first third of it.

Who are the "Laura's" and are they all really named Laura? As a reader, you'll find the answer to that question. Along the way, you'll find a poignant story of an adolescent whose mom takes her as she leaves her husband and home. You'll learn of the experiences the mom faced growing up and the feelings of her daughter, Alex, as she wonders where they're going and as she matures during their journey. You'll come to find their definition of home in this interesting and emotion- evoking read. I truly enjoyed this book!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, being unfamiliar with the author and having requested it on a whim. I do love a good road trip novel, and this is an excellent one! But it's different from the road trip novels I typically read, which tend to be lighthearted, funny, full of high jinks. This book is occasionally funny, but mostly reflective. The language is absolutely gorgeous. Our narrator is Alex, an agender/genderqueer teen just hitting their teens at the beginning of the book. Alex and their mother journey across the country, scraping by on waitressing jobs and saving, while Alex's mom re-visits important people and places in her past. The characters were so real -- I was sad to leave Alex at the end. I will say that it was hard to care quite as much about Alex's mother and the various people and stories in her past -- at times I wanted the author to just hurry up and get through them so we could get back to Alex. That's really my only quibble though.

Alex’s mother leaves her marriage with Alex in tow and through a cross country journey takes a tour of her past. This trip allows Alex to see the mother as a woman and a human being and not just a mother. The mother is a woman who has not had an easy life and when what she has endured is made clear and she finds her “home” and is finally happy, Alex begins to discover what she needs in her life to be happy. Although Alex’s gender is never revealed, I pictured a female or someone born with both male and female sex organs. This would make an excellent book group read as there are numerous topics to discuss such as gender, sexual abuse, foster care, parent/child relationships, commitment and finding one’s place in the world.

This book was hard to read at times but I am so glad I stuck with it. The mother is unlikable and there are some graphic and disturbing scenes involving Alex. However, this is the type of book that really makes you think long after you have finished reading it. As you are reading, you think Alex's mother is the most selfish person in the world. But as you learn more about Alex, it makes you wonder if the constant moving and interacting with different people really was in the best interest of Alex. At the conclusion of the story, Alex might not have that happy ending but maybe Alex is in a better position to go after what is important and makes her/him happy than if she/he had never left home to begin with. I just really find this book fascinating and it would make for an interesting book club discussion. I definitely can see why some people are put off by the book, but thankfully I really got something out of it. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read the advance digital copy!

This was an engrossing story of a mother/daughter road trip with some very interesting characters. Not just any short term road trip, but one that lasts for years. The mother decides to leave her husband, and take her thirteen year old daughter on a tour of some of the places in her past. During this time we learn about the mother's former life, and meet many of the significant people (including quite a few Lauras) from that past. As she attempts to reconnect with lost friends, right a few wrongs, and help a few people out, her daughter discovers a whole new side of the person she has always known as just Mom. Other than a side plot toward the end regarding sexuality, which I thought was not really necessary and seemed like it was thrown in to create edginess, I enjoyed this road trip a great deal. I liked seeing inside the mind of Alex's mom, and what she was going to come up with next. She really did have a good heart, and never discounted her role as a mother to accomplish what she set out to do. A mother/daughter road trip with lots of edgy characters and a mother on a mission. This one will keep you reading to find out where they will go, and what will happen next.

It only took me a few nights to read The Lauras in its entirety. I felt that some parts were too drawn out and repetitive and then at the end it was too quick with a lot of unanswered questions that were brought up along the way throughout the story. I felt it needed a better epilogue. The story itself was written in great descriptive detail in my opinion making the characters pretty clear in my head. Overall a sad family story that you hope nobody ever would have to deal with those situations personally.

I tried to love this book, it had the elements of a fantastic mother daughter journey, but sadly I couldn't, in fact I couldn't even finish it. It started out beautifully, a mother takes her daughter and leaves her husband, due to arguing and i think the woman was just over the marriage and tired of the drama and stress. And they travel and stay in different places, always trying to stay one step ahead of her husband who is searching for them. The mother tells her story and her daughter and we learn her back story, but I had to stop at the hitchhiking scene. There comes a time when you take off with your child that it is time to come home and deal with the situation. Get a lawyer, file for separation and then divorce if it is not going to work out. I feel the mother out herself and her daughter in unnecessary and dangerous situations after awhile on the road. While this story is told from the daughter's perspective years later I just couldn't care about these characters, I'm sorry. Thank you to First to Read program for letting me read and review The Lauras!

I don't dislike the book I just can't get through it. The hitchhiking scenario was disgusting. I didn't like the mother's behavior so I did not enjoy the book.

Did not finish at 30% Lost interest.

I got a third of the way through this book and just couldn't keep reading. I struggled to stay interested, and then just got disgusted by the hitchhiking scene. I don't think I'll be able to finish the book, as there are so many other books out there worth reading. I received this as part of a First to Read program, and am glad I didn't spend money on it.

I didn't love or hate The Lauras. There were parts I enjoyed, that kept me reading, and lots of parts that bored me to tears. I liked the mother/child relationship and their interactions but didn't care for the spuratic, hypersexual, teenage stuff. I also felt like there were some pretty heavy topics that were never fully dealt with. Overall, not the worst book I've ever read, but i can't say I'd recommend it to anyone.

Alex looks back on life on the road as a young teen 30 years prior. I assumed Alex was female, but realized well into the book that the gender is purposely unclear. Even without this twist, the story is unusual. Alex's Ma wakes her (I'll use female pronouns for convenience) in the wee hours after one family fight too many, packs her and a few possessions into the car, and flees their Virginia home for points south. On the road, Ma reveals stories of her own turbulent past, while revisiting several sites to take care of unfinished business. When money runs low, they settle for longer periods, living in seedy apartments or motels while Ma waitresses/bartends and Alex attends school. This continues for over 2 years. One common thread is the Lauras, women who may or may not have been named Laura, who were important in Ma's life. After adventures all over the country (some decidedly unpleasant and others more fun), they head for California (for some key unfinished business) and eventually across the border to settle in Canada. An epilogue fills us in on what happened after that, but the story felt a bit incomplete.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor When I first started this story, I thought is this going to be one of those stories that just go on with out a point and drone on and on without ever having a plot or an actual story line, but I stayed with it and it quickly became a very good, hard to put down, book. It is a reflective story of a mother and her teenager's odyssey across America on a quest of righting old wrongs and making things right both then and now. A story of acceptance, both of who you were, who you are, and maybe who you may be later. What makes you you. Who you keep, who you jettison and how to live your life. Understanding who you are, and how to forgive your mistakes and embrace your triumphs. I received this from Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

From the moment I began to read The Lauras I knew I could not put it down. A very intense, sad and beautifully written journey of a mother and her child. 13 year old Alex is taken from bed by mother and whisked to their car and Off on a long trip across the country. Following the mother's life story and creating Alex's life story. At times not an easy read. At times I wanted to grab and hug Alex. An incredibly written novel.

Where to begin? This is not a simple book to read or review. The subject matter is not easy to read or consider, on any level, there's just no easy way around it. No one would choose to experience this story firsthand. Reading about it, though, provides distance and perspective. The reader can't help but be drawn in and enveloped by the world and all its complexity. The plot: Ma and her child escape in the middle of the night, mid-fight with dad, and begin a haphazard drive through the continental U.S. ostensibly reacquainting Ma with her past. Or something like that. The child, Alex, of indeterminate gender, learns more about Ma on this journey than ever before. The fragile nature of both of their lives, their sexuality, their places in this world and their abilities to stay connected to the ones they love is at the heart of this novel. It is searing, frightening, heartbreaking and endearing all at once. It is singular and memorable.

Parts of this story I liked and parts I wondered why it was put into the book. It was a fairly quick read with something constantly happening. Wish it gave a tad more info to what happened to ma at the end of the road.

Sara Taylor has written some beautiful prose in The Lauras. Unfortunately I just never clicked with the unlikable characters, the androgynous Alex and Ma. I'm sure this duo will resonate with some but their motives and actions just seemed unfathomable to me. The concept of a mother and child exploring the mother's past, the child's coming of age and the country they live in is interesting but I think you have to care what ultimately happens to them. I just didn't. I was given a copy through Penguin's First to Read Program.

I always love a good road trip book. Alex's mother and Alex take off in the middle of the night to settle some problems from the past. Alex was definitely my favorite character. Alex is an awkward teen who is a loner but curious about other teens. We never find out the gender of Alex which added an interesting plot device for Alex. On the road trip, Alex's mom talks about her past and the struggles she faced growing up. In each story, there are different women that have influenced her life. She calls them all Laura. This story kept me engaged because I liked visiting all the places Alex and her mom visited and trying to piece together how Alex's mom past and all the Lauras were going to lead to the conclusion of the story. My reasoning for the four stars instead of five is that I feel like there could have been more. I feel there were a few things left unanswered and I would have liked a bit more character development. Other than that, this book is a fun and easy read that made me want to hop in the car and see the country.

While the writing style was okay the voice of the 14 year narrator was too indifferent for the situations she was placed in. Honestly, when I got to page 55 (I think) I could not go further. What purpose did this scene serve.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly enjoyed it. I was kept enthralled by the road journeys. Between the stories and road trips are lots of life lessons and philosophies of living that are revealing. It is a coming of age tale of a teenager that I will long remember. The older I get I often wonder how well I really know my parents and their stories. The characters were well-developed and the storyline not necessarily predictable. The book is an exploration of life which continues to march on for us all whether we find our circumstances acceptable or not and we have to learn that sometimes the only way out is compromise. I would definitely recommend it.

"Ma's" unfinished business and wanderlust allowed Alex (an androgynous feeling/looking/dressing teen) insights into the life of a parent (who was an immigrant from southern Italy), that most people may never have with a parent. Alex is the narrator in this interesting, hard to stop reading coming of age (both the parent and the child) novel. Taylor is able to describe gender based as well as sexual based feelings (especially after Alex encounters a horrendous episode when hitch-hiking) delicately and succinctly, the reader can't wait to find out what happens in the present to Alex and what happened to Ma in the past. Knowing that families can be dysfunctional, it is still difficult to read how parents can be so callous with children of all ages (story of Ma), and even in a fictionalized account, can see how parental behavior impacts the child/adult for life. Alex appears to be a lucky product of an unhappy marriage, as both parents who loved him/her allowed and encouraged him/her to BE whomever he/she was. The mother in the story did not force Alex to adhere to any societal conventions. She did require obedience when indicated. Neither she nor the father stopped Alex from leaving the nest, although it appeared both loved Alex dearly. The last chapter when Alex described the sadness felt at his mother's passing left me hanging--What happened? Did Alex spend any time with Ma after leaving at 16? The Epilogues' description of hitching back to Virginia and finding the father did not satisfy my curiosity regarding HOW Alex came to terms with his/her self (I believe Alex to have been born a male). This book is well written, just know that it leaves the reader flat--especially if you had any empathy for the characters. Don't know if I will look up Sara Taylor's books in the future, though I did find her narrative easy to read.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have access to this book, but I found it disappointing. The plot felt thin and was not engaging enough for me to find any connection to. The ambiguity of Alex was at first slightly interesting, then grew tiresome. The mother at first seemed to care about her child, then bordered on neglect through all her actions, as though she just wanted a road trip buddy. I made it about half-way through and just abandoned it, which is a rare action for me. I'm sad to say that this isn't one that I would recommend.

The characters of the book The Lauras are well developed throughout the book. The mother and child characters of this book leave their home in Virginia and travel across the United States, in what might appear to be a random path, but the mother has a plan to visit her past haunts and repay some debts. Their travels finally take them to California, where the mother reveals her deepest secret from her past, one she is not able to confront when the time comes. This story kept me interested, but I got a little lost at the end. I get the idea behind why the child took off again after making it back home to the father. But it seemed to be a little muddled at the end.

It was hard for me to get into this book. I felt no connection to the characters and I felt like the story telling was everywhere. The title certainly did not indicate what the book would be about and I most likely wouldn't purchase this book due to not connecting with the characters or storyline.

I was drawn to the adventure between the mother and her child, however it was a little far fetched that the father did not come after the child. I did not really understand the need to make Alex transgender. It did not really add anything to the story. It came across seeming more like a soap box. The end was not written well. It did not really make sense for Alex to run away again. There was no mention of the real impact of being on the road for all that time.

Enjoyed the book immensely. Definitely worth a read.

I found this novel to be very well written but sad in many ways. Having had an interesting childhood myself, I could see many of the situations i identified with. I don't think the description of the book near matched up to what the reader should expect when deciding to read it. Living on the road as a teenager for three years is heartbreaking.

It wasn't only the fanciful writing paired with the straight out story telling, or the lure of the need to find out how it all ended, but the overall draw of taking off into the wide world; righting a wrong, getting revenge, and helping someone escape a life they no longer wanted. It was like following along on a bucket list road trip that coincided with a coming of age journey. From the mother's restless need to find home with one of her 'Lauras' to the frustration of puberty and never really knowing if Alex was male or female (and not caring either way by the end), I think there is something for everyone to identify with on some level in this book.

Initially I enjoyed the book due to the strong characterization and lush descriptions. Taylor is a strong writer who makes scenery come alive. Unfortunately, the plot meandered and I did not finish the book after a particularly disturbing and vulgar scene.

This is a difficult book to review. It is definitely a mother and daughter road trip tale as advertised yet it so much more. I almost stopped reading the book about a third of the way through because even though it was written beautifully it was filled with so much ugliness. I found it depressing. Unfortunately, because it was written so well it stayed with you. I wasn't sure that I needed depression during my relaxation time while the daily news is bombarding us with ugliness too. It is a story of a mom and her child who is 13 years old at the start of the trip and is 16 years old by the end. It tells the tale of a mother who leaves the child's father and travels with the child across country in order to complete some unfinished business from her past which mostly occurred while she was in the foster care system. I really do not want to give any spoilers other than the reader's feelings for the mother change throughout the story.Many times I was angry with the mother, at other times I felt sorry for her and still at others empathetic. It is told in first person. The narrator being the thirteen year old child,Alex, who refuses or is unable to choose her gender and is angered by the necessity to declare one. It also tackles the abuse that Alex endures due to the world not understanding her refusal to do so. It is a coming of age story for the child, Alex (And no matter what her parents think, even at 16 ,she is still a child ) and also for the mother . It is a truly moving tale yet a disturbing one. When I finished reading the book, I just sat attempting to digest what I read. I guess it was a testament to the author's skills that I wanted to write the mother a letter. It would not have done any good. She did the best that she knew, I suppose. And the child, how can one not worry .


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