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.
A mother and her teenage daughter embark on a cross-country journey through the mother's past in this second novel from the author of The Shore. After months of listening to her parents argue, the narrator, Alex, 13, is suddenly living on the road with her capricious mother, Ma, who ferries them from Florida to California in search of a place to make a life. Lending structure to the road trip are flashbacks to Ma's episodes with "The Lauras," the various girls and women who shaped Ma's young identity in school, foster houses, and girls homes. Ma's journey to self-understanding sets the stage for Alex's self-discovery, as she unbeknownst to Ma trades sex for rides from strange men, writes letters to her abandoned father, and comes to know her mother's darkest secrets. The trip finally leads them to cross the border into Canada, where one of the Lauras may or may not offer both Ma and Alex what they seek. Though there are some underexplored subplots, the mother-daughter relationship lends pathos and purpose to this voyage.