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.
My Goodreads rating: ★★★☆☆
THE LAURAS is a strangely lyrical book, following genderless Alex and their mother on a roadtrip across America, intermingled with stories Alex’s mother tells about her childhood and college days.
I don’t have a huge amount of feelings about this book. The writing is really lovely, and I feel like the two protagonists are well written and defined, but in honesty not a lot actually happens and the story is slightly dull. Alex’s mother’s stories are fascinating and it is interesting to see how she grew up – and the idea of the two of them driving cross-country was something I could have really enjoyed. But there’s no urgency. Nothing happens that makes me particularly invested in either character.
I did enjoy reading about all the Lauras – even the ones who weren’t really called Laura – and I do think it was an interesting premise, but unfortunately perhaps not for me.