On the surface The Lauras is a mother – child road trip novel. So far so easy, right? Not quite. Ma is restless and after one fight to many with her husband she bundles Alex into the car in the middle of the night and takes off.
Narrated by Alex we watch Ma’s story unfold through Alex’s eyes. We’re one step removed, yet we’re in the thick of it because it is Alex’s story too. As they make their way across the country Alex learns about Ma’s life. A complicated, often times messy life that has left its mark. A life full of people, places and experiences that have stayed with Ma. We learn about the Lauras and the non-Lauras and are reminded that sometimes the people who are in your life for only a short time have the biggest impact. Ma is ready to confront her past in an effort to heal those wounds and reconnect with her former self. The self she pushed aside when she met Alex’s Dad.
All the while Alex is facing uncertainty. Where will their next school be and how long will they be staying? I’ve used ‘they’ as a singular pronoun because Alex does not identify as either male or female. Whether they view themselves as non-binary or agender is never explicitly stated. We see some the difficulties Alex faces, particularly at school, but more importantly we see the freedom Alex has to explore their gender identity and learn to feel comfortable in their own skin.
The Lauras is a sensitive, moving, compelling and nuanced look at gender, sexuality, how the past affects our present and questions how well we really know our parents.
The Lauras by Sara Taylor is published by Windmill Books, an imprint of the Penguin Random House, and is in hardback, paperback and ebook format.