Dating back to the 1950s, it was not uncommon for Nigerian families to send their children to live with white families in England in a situation best described as private fostering. Rather than go through agencies similar to those here in America, families would simply advertise their child in the local papers, in hopes that a family would be willing to raise them until they were ready to do so themselves. Unlike foster care in the U.S., the birth parents paid the families directly for the care of their child. In most instances, the parents were not poor or seemingly neglectful, as are many parents in America's system. Rather, these were parents that came to England to pursue education or job opportunities and, hindered by their children, sent them to a full time family to care for them until time and money afforded them the chance to do so themselves.- excerpt from my review of Colorblind by Precious Williams
Being Lara is the story of Lara Reid, Nigerian by birth, English in spirit. Adopted at three by a former English pop star and her husband, Lara has grown up in a household where she knows she is loved, but still longs for the piece of herself that she intuitively knows is missing. When the missing piece shows up in the form of her birth mother on her thirtieth birthday, Lara questions if this is a prayer she truly wanted answered.
Though the situation in Being Lara is not the same as the situation in Colorblind, I still found myself comparing the two. While Precious in Colorblind, which is based on the author's true life story, was fostered to a family, Lara, a fictional character, is adopted. However, both women find themselves questioning their differences from their white playmates as children and again, as adults, their co-workers, friends, etc. In both situations, the characters had problems with introduction to the Nigerian world that was unfamiliar to them. The assumption from their birth parents seemed to be that they should naturally know and understand all things Nigerian.
I appreciated Lola Jaye taking the time to not only tell Lara's story, but telling her mother's as well. Too often the story is only told from the perspective of the adoptee, so I found Yomi's story fascinating. It was also interesting to see Yomi's interactions with Lara's adopted parents. Most enjoyable, though, were Lara and her grandmother's conversations. There was a lot of self-discovery for several of the characters. This was my first read from Lola Jaye, but I was impressed enough that I'll be checking out more from her.
Note: If you're interested in reading more about fostering and the long-term affects, I encourage you to read Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's, best known as Adebisi in HBO's Oz and Mr. Eko in Lost, recent article in The Guardian.
Published: March 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.
Theme: Come In by Dianne Reeves