Being Lara: A Novel

( 4 )

Overview

What other explanation could there be? With her dark complexion and kinky hair, so unlike her fair-skinned parents, Lara knew she was different. At eight she finally learned the word "adopted." Twenty-two years later, a stranger arrives as she blows out the candles on her thirtieth birthday cake—a woman in a blue-and-black head tie who also claims the title "Lara’s mother."

Lara, always in control, now finds her life slipping free of the stranglehold she's had on it. Unexpected,...

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Being Lara: A Novel

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Overview

What other explanation could there be? With her dark complexion and kinky hair, so unlike her fair-skinned parents, Lara knew she was different. At eight she finally learned the word "adopted." Twenty-two years later, a stranger arrives as she blows out the candles on her thirtieth birthday cake—a woman in a blue-and-black head tie who also claims the title "Lara’s mother."

Lara, always in control, now finds her life slipping free of the stranglehold she's had on it. Unexpected, dangerously unfamiliar emotions are turning Lara's life upside down, pulling her between Nigeria and London, forcing her to confront the truth about her past. But if she's brave enough to embrace the lives of her two mothers, she may discover once and for all what it truly means to be Lara.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jaye's newest (after By the Time You Read This) is a stunningly emotional tale of adoption from the perspectives of the three women involved—Nigerian birth mother Yomi; white, British, adoptive mother Pat; and Lara, the daughter struggling to discover who she is. When Yomi, the wife of a village chief, becomes pregnant by another man, she decides to give the little girl—Omolara—up for adoption to avoid scandal. After once-successful pop-star Pat has a miscarriage and can't get pregnant again, she and husband Barry journey to the Motherless Children's Home in Nigeria and return to England with a new daughter. Raised by loving parents, but teased as an outsider throughout her childhood, Lara nonetheless grows up to be a strong, if emotionally reticent, young lady. At her 30th birthday party, however, a mysterious woman in traditional Nigerian dress arrives, and Lara is flung into a whirlwind of illuminating and distressing self-discovery, as she comes to terms with a heritage she's never known, while more fully embracing the one she was raised in. Jaye does an outstanding job of laying out a complex story, while giving each character an honest voice with which the concomitant fears and hopes of adoption are brilliantly expressed. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Lara Reid always knew that she was different. In her English town, most families did not have a daughter adopted from an orphanage in Nigeria. And to complicate matters, her mother, Pat, used to be a famous pop star, a fact that brings more scrutiny to Lara. As she grew up, Lara always thought about her birth mother; now, finally, on her 30th birthday, the mysterious woman appears. How Lara reacts, how she handles getting to know her Nigerian family, and how this complicates her relationship with her English parents are this novel's main plot points. We see the story from Lara's point of view, and then from that of each mother. The Nigerian touches are sweet and fascinating; Lara's birth mother's story is intriguing, and Lara's Nigerian grandmother is a hoot. VERDICT This story is at its most interesting when the viewpoint changes. At other times, Jaye's (By the Time You Read This) novel seems a bit trite, predictable, and simplistic. Still, readers interested in biculturalism and biracialism may enjoy her sophomore effort.—Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC
Kirkus Reviews
An adopted child turns 30 and confronts her African origins. Lara, a successful London web entrepreneur, has always felt slightly dislocated, an anomie which has expressed itself in mild OCD symptoms. Growing up in Essex, England, with her adoptive white parents, she's had to cope with racist slurs and narrow-minded neighbors. Worse, she's never had an adequate answer to the question that continues to unsettle her as true adulthood looms—why did her African mother abandon her? Lara's two mothers each have their narrative say. Pat (formerly one-hit-wonder rock star Trish) has been estranged from her own family ever since she adopted a black child. Yomi, Lara's birth mother, was unwillingly married off to a powerful chief in her village near Lagos, Nigeria. Her true love, Henry, had disappeared, but returns long enough to impregnate her. The revelation of how and why, exactly, Lara wound up in the Motherless Children's Home, where Pat and her husband Barry, visiting on a charity mission, found her, is withheld until novel's end, presumably to generate suspense in a plot whose momentum otherwise lags. By her 30th birthday, Lara considers herself thoroughly English—her longing to meet her African mother has diminished. But just as she is about to blow out the candles on her birthday cake, a mysterious woman in a head wrap appears at her parents' door. Lara (née Omolara) spends the rest of the novel avoiding her birthmother, but urged on by her best friend Sandi, and her boyfriend Tyler, Lara reaches out to Yomi's mother, who has accompanied her daughter to England in the quest for their lost progeny. As "Granny" introduces Lara to her Nigerian heritage, Lara finds the missing dimensions of her selfhood and steels herself to learn the truth about her perceived abandonment by Yomi. Unfortunately Lara's conflicts pale in comparison to those of Yomi, a character who would have absconded with the novel had she been allotted more space. An earnest but often clichéd and sentimental coming-of-age story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062069344
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/13/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,375,187
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Lola Jaye was born and raised in London, England, where she still makes her home; she has also lived briefly in Nigeria. By the Time You Read This—Lola's first U.S. novel—was published by HarperCollins in 2009. Her inspirational essay "Reaching for the Stars: How You Can Make Your Dreams Come True," in which she charted her journey from foster child to author, was released in 2009 as part of the U.K.'s wildly popular Quick Reads program.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

4 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2012

    A story that kept me turning pages from beginning to end. A lit

    A story that kept me turning pages from beginning to end. A little girl suddenly realizes that she is different from everyone else, her parents don't look like her and neither does the rest of her family. Lara has a hard time finding out the reality of her situation and upon entering her 30th year she is finally finding out the real truth.

    Jumping from past and present and between different characters, the reader gets the whole picture for this book - through the eyes of Lara, her adopted mother and her birth mother. The reader finds out the history that leads each woman to where they are now in the present grappling with forming a new family unit. I thought this was a fresh approach to the world of adoption. We find out how she came to live at an orphanage and then what led her to London with her adopted parents.

    I would recommend this to readers of all genres. This story was a new take that I think most readers would enjoy. It was a great read to find out how a young girl feels when she knows that her family isn't the norm.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2012

    Tori

    Your a butt

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    Marvin

    What do you mean im a butt? Im sosososo srry caus i got kicked on tht result. I told someone to tell u tht i got kicked. Im rlly srry. 4give me plz?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2012

    Huh

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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