cover image The Lauras

The Lauras

Sara Taylor. Hogarth, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-451-49685-0

A mother and her teenage daughter embark on a cross-country journey through the mother’s past in this second novel from the author of The Shore. After months of listening to her parents argue, the narrator, Alex, 13, is suddenly living on the road with her capricious mother, Ma, who ferries them from Florida to California in search of a place to make a life. Lending structure to the road trip are flashbacks to Ma’s episodes with “The Lauras,” the various girls and women who shaped Ma’s young identity in school, foster houses, and girls homes. Ma’s journey to self-understanding sets the stage for Alex’s self-discovery, as she—unbeknownst to Ma—trades sex for rides from strange men, writes letters to her abandoned father, and comes to know her mother’s darkest secrets. The trip finally leads them to cross the border into Canada, where one of the Lauras may or may not offer both Ma and Alex what they seek. Though there are some underexplored subplots, the mother-daughter relationship lends pathos and purpose to this voyage. Agent: Lucy Luck, Conville & Walsh. (Aug.)