“The Lauras” Blogging for Books Review

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The Lauras by Sara Taylor

3/5

The Lauras is a very quick read (I finished it in two days). It’s a book that’s left me puzzling as to how much I really like it, though. I’m a bit of a sucker for these nomadic coming-of-age stories, so a mother-daughter quest across the country was appealing. Taylor’s prose is enjoyable though not ground-breaking.

The first person account lands the reader in the mind of Alex, but I consistently wished the story had been given from the mother’s perspective as she seemed a much more interesting character. Alex is often passive — even remarks on this passivity at the end of the novel — and as such is not always compelling. However, she acts as a mouthpiece for the stories her mother tells.

The structure of the book is what I enjoyed the most, as it’s a weaving together of the current narrative of Alex’s journey across the country interspersed with “Ma’s” stories recounted in Alex’s words. The reader gets a good idea of Ma’s life as she seeks to tie up loose ends in her search for “Laura.”

Woven throughout the book is Alex’s struggle with fitting into established gender identities. This was an interesting part of Alex as a character, but moreover I appreciated Taylor’s handling of this issue. It was done respectfully and carefully, and I enjoyed reading of a parental character in support of their child’s reluctance toward gender conformity, rather than being yet another source of pressure.

This is likely not a book I’d read again, but it’s an enjoyable book nonetheless. Pick it up for a quick read that offers a little more substance.

**I was provided a copy of this book by the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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“Carve” Blogging for Books Review

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Sometime last year my husband and I decided to try our hands at whittling. Both of us had a sudden taking with it, wanting to delve into this beautiful old-fashioned hobby. After doing some internet research, we bought some whittling tools from a craft shop and tried them out on bars of soap.

Neither of us was very good. And we haven’t magically become good at it since, either.

But then I came across this book, and I think it’s going to be an excellent assistant as I dive back into the world of whittling. Abrantes gives clear, simple instructions and provides a range of projects (easy, intermediate, and hard) and the templates and instructions necessary for each. I’m very eager to try out the tips and methods laid out in this book.

The book is cute and small, a perfect size to tuck in alongside a chunk of wood and a knife. If you’re looking for a simple guide to whittling, I definitely recommend this one!

 

**I was provided a copy of this book by the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

“Braving It” Blogging for Books Review

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All of my life, I have listened to my father dream aloud of this wild landscape, an untouched place where humans and nature can coexist in a brutal and beautiful way. Like my father, I have never seen Alaska–at least not yet–but after reading James Campbell’s Braving It, I feel almost as though I have.

Campbell’s writing flows effortlessly, invoking imagery of this untamed land and introducing readers to the hard lives of those who live in the bush of Alaska. Heimo and Edna’s world is foreign to most of us, as their days are consumed with the most basic tasks of survival. Into this world, Campbell and his daughter, Aidan, are thrust, and alongside them the reader catches a glimpse of how harsh, hard, and rewarding this life can be.

I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the landscape, flora and fauna alike, of this land I have yet to see. Similarly it was captivating to learn the details of life in the rugged Interior of Alaska. At times, the recounted conversations in the book felt contrived, but overall I felt rooted in the experiences of Campbell and his daughter.

For those of us who have yet to, or may never experience Alaska and this quickly-disappearing way of life, Braving It is an invaluable account.

 

**I was provided a copy of this book by the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.