Coming-of-age tale makes for a ‘very readable’ choice

The Lauras by Sarah Taylor, published by William Heinemann
The Lauras by Sarah Taylor, published by William Heinemann

The Lauras by Sarah Taylor published in hardback by William Heinemann, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.99). Available now

The follow-up to Sarah Taylor’s debut novel The Shore, that was shortlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award and longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, is a coming-of-age novel in the form of a road trip.

Alex has been listening to rows between her parents, until eventually one night Ma comes into the bedroom and takes Alex with her on a journey across the States.

As they criss-cross the US, Ma’s own growing-up story is revealed. She was a wanderer, ending up in foster homes and telling Alex about her first childhood best friend - Laura - and how “you try to get the new Laura to fit into the hole that the old Laura left”.

Alex has to try to fit in to all the new situations she finds herself in, while missing her dad. Ma may seem lacking in some maternal aspects, but she is fiercely protective of Alex’s desire not to belong to either gender - and fix on girl or boy.

The variety of landscapes and different cultures in the vast US landscape and the restlessness it can provoke provides the backdrop to this very readable novel.

8/10

(Review by Bridie Pritchard)