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The Lauras by Sara Taylor

The Lauras

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One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | April 2017 Book of the Month.

A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored. The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. Sara Taylor placed me in the seat next to Alex, I joined this intimate, evocative journey meandering from the east to west coast of the USA, and I didn’t want it to end. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. ‘The Lauras’ is an absolute delight of a read, and it touched my heart. ~ Liz Robinson

Click here to download some Reading Group questions for The Lauras.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Emma Smith - 'I loved the meaning behind the title; the sense of hope and belonging each of the Lauras promised, the potential of a different life ahead, and the opportunities that were taken or missed.'
  • Suz Beney - 'Parts of this book were brilliantly written and others felt underdeveloped and left me wanting more.'
  • Ruth Carson-Byrne - 'A novel dealing with identity, the relationship between a mother and her child and a very long road trip. Definitely worth a read if you're after something a bit different.'
  • Rachel Bridgeman - 'Beautiful, literary and elegiac, please read this very important novel. It has so much to say about the role of women in modern, American history.'
  • Paula Dennan - 'The Lauras is a sensitive, moving, compelling and nuanced look at gender, sexuality and how the past affects our present.'
  • Sabine Little - 'A beautiful and sensitively written book that might make us look at the members of our family in a different way.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'This amusing, tender novel will have you looking at your parents and yourselves in a whole new light!!'
  • Vanessa Wild - 'Well written road trip coming of age story with a twist!'
  • Dawn Vanstone - 'Alex and Ma leave home in the middle of the night on a journey that takes nearly three years to reach its destination.  An excellent story.'
  • Suzanne James - 'A mother/child road trip across America that draws you in to their complex relationship and the story of the Lauras that slowly unfolds as they travel.'
  • Dana Captainino - 'The Lauras is a road trip and a novel that covers thousands of miles across America and a lifetime intimacy of the relationship between mother and child.'
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'Well executed story taking familiar themes of coming-of-age, parental relationships and combing with a journey both physical and of emotional past remembrance.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This was a cool story about survival, relationships and unconventional life choices that altogether made one awesome story!'


The Lauras by Sara Taylor

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 Ma and Alex make their way from Virginia to California, each new state prompts stories and secrets of a life before Alex. Together they put to rest unsettled scores, heal old wounds, and search out lost friends. But Alex can't forget the life they've left behind.


'Sara Taylor's The Lauras just persuaded me even more that Taylor is a writer of real gravitas and potency. It feels, to read her, uncanny - a bit reminiscent of reading early Atwood three decades ago. She's a writer whose talent, a fusion of sure-footed, calm and uncompromising, is both quiet and prodigious.' -- Ali Smith Guardian, 'Best Books of 2016

'Elegiac and beautifully observed... Our sympathies remain with the narrator throughout. Scenes of violence, abuse and ritual humiliation are described in such visceral detail that the injustice of Alex's experience burns on to the page ... Taylor has a great ear for language, with the kind of sentences that make you pause and read a second time ... It is such acute observations of her imaginary world that saw Taylor's debut novel, The Shore longlisted for the Bailey's prize, and it should be no great surprise to find her second novel following in its footsteps ... At the heart of the novel's themes of family, love, loss, and identity - not to mention the power, destruction and redemption within the parent-child relationship - is a meditation on gender: on our determination to define and categorise, and on the need by some to belittle or abuse based on that distinction.' Observer

'A strong voice ... both lyrical and down-to-earth ...Taylor's sense of place is one of her greatest strengths. She writes about versions of America that few outsiders ever see ... There is nothing gratuitous about her writing. All of these places are there because they matter and because being in them changes the characters or reveals their histories ... An extraordinary journey ... There's violence and pain in The Lauras ... The Lauras is a fine achievement, engrossing, original and eloquent, and Taylor has more than fulfilled the promise of The Shore.' -- Helen Dunmore, Guardian

'Sara Taylor's tour-de-force debut, The Shore, was an intriguing set of interlocked short stories, spanning generations and crossing genres ... She more than keeps the promise of The Shore in The Lauras. If there is one significant difference it is that The Shore was fiercely bound to a place, whereas The Lauras is a road trip ricocheting around North America. It is a road trip of both inner space and outer vistas ... Alex does not identify as either sex, nor gender. If you re-read this review at this point you will see how I avoided using a pronoun that might indicate a specificity that Alex renounces. The book does this brilliantly ... It is exceptionally moving, and the novel it reminded me of most is James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, not in terms of structure or intent or sentences, but in beguiling the reader into identifying with someone they thought they couldn't ... On the way, Alex will be tormented, abused, adored and ignored. Some of these scenes are gut-wrenching; some of them are quietly beautiful. Taylor's prose is remarkable; both intense and expansive, both precise and wonderfully sfumato ... The writing about Alex exploring different wildernesses is astonishing; the pages about Alex masturbating - and let's remember we do not and cannot know what is actually going on - are in a strange way sublime ... A joy.' -- Stuart Kelly, The Scotsman

'Sara Taylor is a writer with a strong sense of place ... [The Lauras is] a work that looks to combine the epic sweep of America with an intimate study of a mother and her child ... It is testament to Taylor's taste and restraint that she never uses this unusual point to strain for cheap characterisation - Taylor's affinity for the environment and landscape, so clear from The Shore, is evident again... Indeed the journey Taylor takes us on is often assured, interesting and full of poise.' Sunday Times

About the Author

Sara Taylor

Sara Taylor is herself a socially anxious product of rural Virginia and the homeschooling movement. She traded her health for a BFA from Randolph College, and her sanity for an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia. Following the MA her supervisor refused to let her leave, so she remains at the UEA to chip away at a double-focus PhD in censorship and fiction. She spends an unprecedented amount of time on delayed trains between Norwich and her husband's house in Reading, and tends to get lost, rained on, and chased by cows with unsettling frequency.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th April 2017


Sara Taylor

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Author's Website


Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone


304 pages


Family Drama
Books of the Month
Books of the Year 2017
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Readers Guide



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