Everyone is different in their own way. Sometimes it's our personality that makes us different. Sometimes it's how we live. What we eat. It can be so many things. Being different makes us who we are. Growing up, being different wasn't always a good thing for Lara Reid. Despite her parents always making her feel like she was special, Lara always knew something was different about her. Being Lara by Lola Jaye is an emotional journey into adoption and what makes a family.
Born Omolara in Nigeria, Lara was adopted by a white British couple, Pat and Barry. When we first meet Lara, it is her 30th birthday. She has a successful career, close friend, Sandi, and a boyfriend. But all of that just isn't enough. Her boyfriend Tyler is deeply in love with her, but Lara won't let him in. She's just waiting for the moment when Tyler has had enough. She doesn't want him to love her because eventually the relationship will end. Her birth mother left her. Growing up, Lara always felt if she said or did the wrong thing her parents would send her back to Nigeria. At any moment the people in her life can pack up and leave. To me, it seems like such an irrational fear but I'm not adopted. I found it hard to relate to her character. She has this whole "woe is me attitude." Millions of people are adopted but not everyone has those fears.
At her 30th birthday party, Lara is frozen with fear when a strange woman crashes her party. She doesn't know this woman personally, but Lara knows at some point in time they did know each other. The woman is her birth mother Yomi. This is where the story shifts. We learn about Yomi and Pat's youth. To me, this is their book and not Lara's as the title would suggest. Yomi wanted to follow her heart and marry for love. But her parents' influence forced her to marry for convenience. Being the fourth wife of a wealthy Chief wasn't her dream life, but it helped her parents out financially. When she became pregnant, Yomi wanted better for her child. Leaving Omolara at an orphanage was out of love. Her child's safety was at risk from the other wives who didn't like Yomi's presence. She had to let everyone else believe that Omolara was dead. It was painful, but for the best. Maybe one day she could get her back.
Pat and Yomi's lives seemed to mirror each other. Pat did marry for love, but she didn't have a supportive family. When Pat achieved a little bit of success as a singer, her brothers were ready to pump her for money. If she doesn't give them money, that must mean Pat doesn't love her family. She must be better than them. It was the total opposite. Pat just wanted love and support from her family, but eventually she came to realize she wouldn't get it. Even when Pat and Barry adopted Lara, there was no happy reaction from them. It was, "how can you bring this child into the family?"
There were times I had trouble following the timeline. All three women narrate the book, but some chapters go back and forth between the past and present. Never fear, there a lot of good things in this book. You can learn a lot about Nigerian culture and food. The book made me hungry at some points. It's also refreshing to see a fiction book tackle the subject of interracial adoption.
I connected more to Pat and Yomi's characters than Lara. The book spends
more time on her mothers. I found Lara to be on the whiny side, while
her mothers were full of strength. Despite decades apart, Yomi still sought out her daughter. She could be rejected but still
took the chance to let Omolara know she loved her. Despite all the
stares in public and family rejection, Pat was always happiest being
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours