BEING LARA by Lola Jaye


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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.


Pub Date: March 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-206934-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2012


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