Published By: WmMorrow - Fiction
Length: 303 pp.
Reason for Reading: I've been thinking I need to branch out and read more books by people of different ethnicities/colors and TLC Tours was looking for tour hosts for Being Lara, just as that thought popped into my head.
Adopted at the age of 3, Lara has wonderful parents but has always felt out of place. With her dark, Nigerian skin and her British parents' fair skin in contrast, she has been teased and called an "alien". When her parents explain that she's adopted, she becomes eager to meet her birth mother, but a lie by her father convinces Lara that the woman who bore her gave her up because she was unwanted.
Now, at 30, she has a boyfriend she keeps at arms' length and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. When her birth mother unexpectedly arrives at her 30th birthday party, Lara is confused. But, in order to truly learn to accept herself and move forward in life and love, she must confront her Nigerian mother and learn about her past.
What I loved about Being Lara:
Once the author got beyond the initial introductions and early memories, the book began to pick up pace as it jumped back and forth between time and viewpoints -- from experiences Lara had over the years to her mother's days as a pop sensation and then a young mother, to the history of her birth mother in Nigeria. It was around page 60 that I began to take interest in the story. Had Being Lara not been a tour book, I would have given up on it at page 50, as I usually do, but I did hang on a little longer hoping the pace would pick up and I'm glad I finished the reading. I thought the scene changes were handled well and clearly defined; and, I found the storyline interesting once the author began to unfold the stories of Lara's birth and adoptive mothers. In the end, a little tear squeaked out. I was somewhat relieved that my emotions were eventually engaged.
Lara's adoptive mother is an excellent baker and there are a few recipes at the end of the book.
What I disliked about Being Lara:
Those first 60 pages were truly a grind. I found the writing style awkward and the early chapters in desperate need of tightening. There were quite a few scenes that I felt were either unnecessary or over-long. However, as the story picked up speed, I gradually put my feelings about the writing style on the back burner and grew to enjoy seeing how things unfolded.
There were also some odd annoyances that made no sense to me. For example, when Lara's Nigerian mother and grandmother use the word "daughter," it's spelled "dotter". That perplexed me, since "daughter" sounds like "dotter". I don't understand the use of misspellings in Being Lara. If they were meant to reflect dialect, it's possible that they simply didn't work from an American viewpoint because the pronunciation of one is no different than the other. But "dotter" wasn't the only misspelling. At one point, a character says, "Oh. Mi. Gosh." Again, what was the purpose of the misspelling of "my"? Being Lara definitely was in need of some stronger editing.
Update: Apparently, the difference between "daughter" and "dotter" is not just an American dialect issue. At least two of my American commenters have already informed me that they hear a difference that I do not. The "au" sound is just a "short O" sound, in my head. Thanks to those of you who have shared your thoughts with me!
3/5 - Average writing, decent characterization. Not as believable or revealing as I'd hoped. A tremendously weak beginning is eventually aided by an engaging storyline, but Being Lara needed tightening, throughout. I was disappointed; however, I would not have finished the book if the story hadn't eventually pulled me in, so I do recommend the book if the storyline interests you. I'd say check this one out from your library if you can and be patient with the beginning.
Since this is a tour post, I'll toss in a couple Fiona Friday pics in the same post rather than keeping the kitty pics separate.
Isabel does not try to escape when we go outside, but she really does hate it when I go outdoors. Here, she was trying to figure out how to get to me through the screen door as I returned from snapping photos of flowers.
If I touch a finger to the door, she'll reach up and try to touch it with her paw. I love that.