Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Being Lara by Lola Jaye

This novel of interracial adoption, being different, prejudice, and unconventional but loving family tackles many issues that continue to be current today even as families made up of people of different races have become more and more common. It is certainly less unusual to see children who are a different race than their parents strolling down the street together and many children nowadays are adopted from foreign countries. And adoption as a whole is more open and less stigmatized than it once was.

Opening with Lara's thirtieth birthday party, a small family affair, she is completely gobsmacked when she opens her eyes after blowing out her candles to see an unfamiliar woman standing at the door. She doesn't recognize the woman but she has the sense that deep down, she does in fact know this woman. Lara Reid is the Nigerian born child of white British parents, adopted at the age of three when her mother, a former pop star, decided to donate some money to a Nigerian orphanage and fell in love with little Omolara while she was there. Lara has spent much of her life feeling her "otherness" or like the "alien" a nasty child once called her in school. Her family is incredibly loving and supportive but the fact that she was once abandoned at the Motherless Children's Orphanage has marked her personality deeply. Despite her upbringing, she is unable to commit to relationships, certain that those around her whom she cares about will in turn eventually leave her too.

If Lara is indelibly marked by her early life and adoption, her mothers, both adoptive and biological, are also forever changed by her presence or the lack thereof in their lives. Both Yomi, her biological mother, and Pat/Trish, her adoptive mother, faced difficult early lives on the edge of poverty. The triple-stranded narrative tells the stories of both of these women and all that led up to Lara's being adopted as well as telling Lara's story. While the background information is very necessary to the story, the jumping from woman to woman and from time period to time period (including Lara's childhood as well as her present) was awkward at times. But having Lara's biological mother arrive unexpectedly in the midst of a birthday celebration and then slowly starting at the beginning of her tale without revealing why she has searched out her daughter now definitely added to the dramatic tension.

Some of the issues surrounding adoptions, such as adoptive parents feeling rejected if a child chooses to know or learn more about her biological family are handled a bit superficially here. And Lara is a much less sympathetic character than either of her mothers, who really shimmer on the page. The contrast of Lara's insecurities with her successful career, handsome and always attentive boyfriend, loving and understanding family, and fantastic flat is a bit overdone and obvious. But the reality of a child who felt different and faced prejudices that her parents could never know is well done and makes the reader pause to think. Despite the potential heaviness of some of the issues weaving through the plot, this is a fairly light examination but generally enjoyable.

For more information about Lola Jaye and the book visit her website, check out herFacebook page, follow her on Twitter or read her blog. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Adoption can be a weighty topic but it sounds like this author added some humor to the story to keep it from being too heavy. Glad you enjoyed the book - thanks for being on the tour!


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts