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The Lauras by Sara Taylor - Review

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Where did I get it? Netgalley, so thank you to Random House Cornerstone. 

What's it about? Alex is thirteen years old when their mother pulls them out of bed in the middle of the night after a row with their dad, and takes off. Ma has had a bag with both their important documents packed for the whole of Alex's life, and now it's time to use them. As the two make their way through America, sometimes staying overnight and sometimes staying for up to a whole school year, Ma tells Alex about the Lauras, all the friends she made with that name, and plenty of other friends she had along the way too. She had somewhat of a chaotic childhood and throughout the novel we get to know her story. 

Alex is agender, and identifies as neither male nor female. We get to know their sotry too and see them growing up from quite an immature teen to a young adult. For the first half of the novel I didn't feel like I knew Alex well enough and felt like the novel was just a vessel for Ma to tell her stories with a sideline of Alex. However, that changed and by the end I really loved them as a character; I felt like they'd been through a lot of growth and emerged a better person. I really liked the ending, too. 

I kept saying this was a weird book and I stand by that - its narrative structure is unlike almost anything I've read before. But I really enjoyed it. I would definitely read something else by the same author. 

I've seen that this is categorised as an adult novel but I really disagree. I think it is a perfect example of a Young Adult novel, in fact. Both Alex and Ma are teenagers when things happen, and both are really kickass people while things are happening. While there is sexual assault, sexual violence, and a few other nasty things, they're no worse than in some other YA novels - although, of course, take care of yourself for triggers. Definitely one for discerning YA readers and older readers who like YA. 

What age range is it for? As I say, anything from probably fifteen upwards, but do take care of yourself. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes! Alex is agender and I liked how Ma dealt with this too - standing up for Alex when needed. It's relayed in a really lovely way and I liked Alex's inner dialogue about themself too. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Not that it's mentioned.

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No

Is there any sex stuff? Yes, as mentioned there's sexual assault and sexual violence, both of which are pretty graphic and could be triggering. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? Maybe once?

Is there any talk of death? Very little

Are there swear words? Yes, a few

What criticisms do I have? I felt like there were parts when very little happened and then a lot happened at once, and I felt like some things just got cut off when I would have liked to know more. There is very little to criticise, though. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes, very much so. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I had seen reviews and knew I wanted to get to it soon. 

What other books is it like? I sort of want to say it's like Chocolat by Joanne Harris, if Chocolat was from Viane's daughter's point of view. It's got that sort of chaotic, moving with the wind, almost magic vibe to it. 

How many stars? Four out of five. Really good book. 

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