What You Do NOT Need to Know About The Lauras by Sara Taylor
Published by Hogarth Press (August 1, 2017)
304 pages (Kindle Edition)
Advance reading copy provided by the publisher
Find on Goodreads
Having read some impressive reviews on her debut effort, The Shore, I was eager to fall in line and anxiously awaited the release of Sara Taylor's sophomore novel, The Lauras. In case this post is too long for you to read, what you need to know is that it definitely did not disappoint and I am certain that I should now read The Shore.
Allow me to back up for a moment, though; prior to beginning this novel, I perused a few of the reviews that had already been posted online, which I rarely do, and began to notice some feelings of defensiveness, like I needed to make a stand for one of the characters and/or for the author. While I'd been having doubts about whether I should take the time to read this novel, after hearing the initial reaction of a trusted friend, this dominating emotional response motivated me to take a chance and form my own opinion.
The novel is, at its most basic, a story about a mother, Ma, and her teenage child Alex, who set off on both a physical and metaphysical journey; as they travel around the country, escaping what has been left behind, they are each learning from one another and learning more about each other. What you do not need to know is Alex's gender; much like an unnamed narrator, Alex's biological gender is never revealed by the author.
Many readers seem to be conflicted about this omission. Part of me is appreciative that I was aware of this before I began reading; another part wonders how my experience of the story might have been different without that knowledge but, now that the novel has been released, it would be pretty tough to miss.
I believe that Alex's gender is left to wonder because it highlights the fact that, in today's society, many of us struggle with the unknown. Many of us struggle when the answers we expect are not given, when the path is undefined. Both Alex and Ma are on an undefined path, both of travel and in life, and Taylor's ability to draw all of these elements together is astounding. The more I think about this story, as each day goes by after having finished it, the more I uncover; I have revisited highlighted passages multiple times.
There is so much more I could write about, so much more to say about this novel, but I'd rather encourage you to read it and then let me know about your own experience. I've always believed that this is the job of a great author: to create a message, a story, that resonates with everyone in powerfully different ways. Go forth and read!