Laura & Emma ~by Kate Greathead

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A tender, witty debut novel about a single mother raising her daughter among the upper crust of New York City society in the late twentieth century from a nine-time Moth StorySLAM champion.

Laura hails from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, born into old money, drifting aimlessly into her early thirties. One weekend in 1981 she meets Jefferson. The two sleep together. He vanishes. And Laura realizes she’s pregnant.

Enter: Emma.

Despite her progressive values, Laura raises Emma by herself in the same blue-blood world of private schools and summer homes she grew up in, buoyed by a host of indelible characters, including her eccentric mother, who informs her society friends and Emma herself that she was fathered by a Swedish sperm donor; her brother, whose childhood stutter reappears in the presence of their forbidding father; an exceptionally kind male pediatrician; and her overbearing best friend, whose life has followed the Park Avenue script in every way except for childbearing. Meanwhile, the apple falls far from the tree with Emma, who begins to question her environment in a way her mother never could.

Told in vignettes that mine the profound from the mundane, with meditations on everything from sex and death to insomnia and the catharsis of crying on the subway, a textured portrait emerges of a woman struggling to understand herself, her daughter, and the changing landscape of New York City in the eighties and nineties. Laura & Emma is an acutely insightful exploration of class and family warfare from a new author whose offbeat sensibility, understated wit, and stylish prose celebrate the comedy and pathos that make us human.


I’m really struggling to figure out a way to explain to you how and why this book struck me so strongly in the feels. The best I can come up with is to compare it to the way I reacted to The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (you can read that review Here if you missed it the first time). This book is fairly simple in its style: it follows Laura and her daughter Emma through their lives in NYC in the 80s and 90s. It’s a character-driven novel propelled by Laura’s often non-traditional thoughts and attitudes towards different aspects of life and the world’s society. And I absolutely loved it.

Laura and Emma burrowed their way into my heart and I think they’re going to stay there for a long, long time. They were quirky and funny and heartwarming, and just plain trying to make it in the world. This book has been compared to Gilmore Girls and yes, I can see the comparison. The story focuses on a single mom and her daughter, and their sometimes strained relationship with Laura’s parents, but it’s so much more than that. It was exactly the book I needed at exactly the right time.

If anything about the synopsis or my review are piquing your curiosity, give it a read. It’s officially another of my favorite reads of 2018 and I can’t wait to start hearing what everyone else thinks of it. ~Amber

Purchase links: Barnes & Noble IndieBound Amazon

Learn about the author on her Website.


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