Friday, April 06, 2012

Being Lara by Lola Jaye

Title: Being Lara by Lola Jaye
Copyright: 2012
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.

Brief summary:

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.

It's Friday!

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.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Oh, those misspellings would have driven me crazy, and the fact that the narrative didn't pull you in and keep you engaged until page 60 would have probably annoyed me as well. It does sound like this book needed a bit more editing, and from your reactions to it, I am not sure if I would enjoy it. Thanks for your honest opinions on this one. It doesn't sound like the book for me.

    Fiona looks so adorable on the other side of that screen!

    1. Yes, I do think editing would have helped. It's a good story, but there were a few too many times I felt pulled away from the action by misspellings to make it a book that I'd eagerly recommend. Still, the story won in the end.

      That's Isabel. She's adorably needy. I just wore her out by running her through her tunnel with her bird on a stick. :)

  2. Nice analysis and critique. I actually would pronounce daughter and dotter a bit differently so it could very well be a dialectish thing. I'm trying to think of words that might differentiate how I 'hear'/say: like the difference between aught and otter. Slightly different to you? Caught and cot!? Anyway, it's tricky stuff.

    I have a fun cat story to share that my neighbor told me: One of their kitties escaped out of a window with no screen and then the human closed the window before realizing cat was gone. Cat wanted back in the same way he got out but now the window was shut. Human then notices poor cat bouncing up and down trying to access the window! Poor thing. (Maybe you had to be there. He told it better.)

    1. Carrie,

      That's exactly what I thought it must be. "AU" is just a short "O" sound, to me. So, daughter and dotter, aught and otter, caught and cot all have the same vowel sound. Fascinating! It's important to remember that the author is British and the speakers (when "dotter" was used) were Nigerian, so there must be a difference to the author. You'd think I'd have that figured out, having just returned from the UK, but nope.

      Uh-oh! Poor kitty got trapped outside! LOL I'll bet that was quite something to see. Fiona once knocked out a screen but when I came into the room without the screen, she was sitting on the windowsill. She was just *outside* on the brick ledge, rather than on the inner window frame. I pulled her in and closed the window, no problem. So, apparently, the outdoors isn't quite as exciting as she makes it out to be. I was so relieved to find that losing the screen didn't equate to losing the cat!!

  3. I seen this one on the tour site and didnt pick it, not sure why but I think with all the excellent choices they had I had to not choose them all!

    I really dislike slow starting books... I have one of them going now and I just keep putting it down...

    1. Sheila,

      I'd been eyeing Being Lara before TLC said they had openings, but I know what you mean. There are so many wonderful books to choose from at the tour site. I probably would have skipped over Being Lara, if they hadn't asked for more people to sign up.

      Slow starts are usually killers. I feel like I'm getting too old to waste my time on something that's not grabbing me, you know? But, this time I decided to just hang in there a little longer and it did pick up, thank goodness. Even though I felt like the writing was weak, I still really did enjoy the story and I'm glad I kept going. I've got one like the one you're reading -- so hard to focus on it that I've picked it up a dozen times and keep finding myself drifting off and setting it down. I don't think I'm going to finish that one (not the one in my sidebar -- I took it out of the sidebar because I wasn't getting anywhere).

  4. I'm guessing the misspellings were dialect because I can hear a difference between daughter and dotter in my head. I think the book sounds interesting.

    1. Must be! Carrie also said she thought daughter and dotter have different pronunciations. It's really a very good story. While I didn't fall in love with it, I do recommend Being Lara if the storyline interests you.

  5. Hmmm, I'm not sure I would have even thought about the misspellings but, you're absolutely right, what was the point? Weird.

    My kitty tries to sniff my fingers through the glass. So slightly less brilliant than Isobel. ;)

    1. Jenny,

      It's entirely possible that I'm too picky. And, Isabel is definitely brilliant, but don't tell Fiona I said that, :)

  6. Cute kitty!

    I am sorry about the lack of communication lately. Things have been nuts lately, but I will email you back soon!

    1. Thanks, Kelly! She's a sweetie. I still haven't managed to turn her into a lap cat, but I give her surprise cuddles, now and then. I'll be happy when she doesn't let out a panic squeak. LOL

      No problem. When you have time, I'll be here. :)

  7. I'm glad you stuck with it - sounds like it turned out to be pretty good read in the end. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

    1. Yes, it did in the end. I'm very glad I decided to push through. Thanks for letting me join in on the tour!


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