Rachel's Reviews > Being Lara: A Novel

Being Lara by Lola Jaye
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May 13, 12

bookshelves: fiction, 2012
Read in May, 2012

Being Lara is the story of Lara Reid, who was adopted from Nigeria at age 3 by a white couple. Growing up she always felt different. Her birth mother shows up unexpectedly to her thirtieth birthday party, which sends Lara into a tailspin. She's forced to confront the abandonment and identity issues she's been trying to repress all these years.

First, I'd like to get two big problems I had with this book out of the way. First - the cover. That is not a picture of a Nigerian girl. I don't even think she's a black girl period. She might bi-racial but the main character is not. Lara is born from native Nigerian parents. I think it's sad that the publisher didn't put a dark skinned black girl on the cover - where they worried that they wouldn't sell as many books?

Second, there is a huge continuity error in the section about Lara's thirtieth birthday party. Lara makes a huge deal about taking a taxi to her party from her apartment. Then when Lara leaves the party, she leaves in her own car. How she gets to and from the party is actually relevant to the plot so it was a jarring error; I'm not sure how that got past an editor.

Okay, now on to the actual book review. I chose this book because my husband and I (both white) are in the process of adopting an African American little girl which makes me very interested in reading stories about transracial adoption. This book definitely taught me what not to do! Lara's parents didn't handle her being adopted or of a different race than them very well at all in my opinion. They didn't really acknowledge that she was adopted until she was eight years old and they never attempted to acquaint her with the culture and country she was born in. It's no wonder she had issues.

This book alternates between the stories of Lara, her adoptive mom Trish, and her birth mom Yomi. Learning Trish and Yomi's back stories helped me understand where their characters were coming from in the present day storyline dealing with Lara as an adult. Yomi's story also taught me about life in Nigeria and some of their customs and food.
I felt that Lara's issues were treated too simplistically in some ways. I felt like Lara should have struggled more and delved deeper into herself when her birth mother came to town. Things moved along rather quickly to be realistic.

Even though this review has some negative points, I did enjoy this book and I feel like I did learn more about transracial adoption from reading it.
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Erin I'm not even going to bother writing a review because you said everything I thought so precisely!


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