Study Guide

Lara Buterskaya in Looking for Alaska

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Lara Buterskaya

Lara is a cutie, though unfortunately for her she doesn't compare to Alaska in Miles's mind. From Romania and with a cute accent to boot, Lara likes likes Miles. Alaska notices this when Lara tries to flirt with Miles while studying for precalc at McDonald's (though Miles, of course, is oblivious to her affections), so Alaska arranges a triple-and-a-half-date to the next basketball game in order to bring Miles and Lara together. Unfortunately this is the same game where Miles gets hit in the head and blows chunks all over Lara's shoes, but Lara is so stinking nice that she still accompanies him and Takumi to the hospital.

Lara's not as verbose as Alaska, which becomes one of the markers of the pseudo-relationship Miles and Lara have: they don't talk. So that emotional intimacy Miles craves? He and Lara just don't have it. But Miles is willing to experiment sexually with her, and she totally digs that and even initiates some of it… okay, all of it. So they kiss a lot and do some, um, other stuff, (and seek out Alaska when they can't figure the other stuff out), and then, because Lara is a little too much like Miles—introspective, nervous, shy, a follower—they do homework.

This is a key to understanding Lara: she, like Miles, is a thinker not a talker. Alaska, in contrast, is a talker and a thinker. Or at least, this is the perspective we're led to see by Miles, who admittedly, is not incredibly reliable when it comes to girls.

Then, Alaska dies, and Miles tells Lara that Alaska got drunk and drove off campus, which is a part of the truth. And Lara, big-hearted as she is, says:

"I'll be een my room eef you want to come by." I did not drop by. I didn't know what to say to her—I was caught in a love triangle with one dead side. (2after.44)

And then Lara disappears from Miles's narration. Not cool, Miles, not cool at all. Finally, months later and thanks to Takumi, Miles gets the wherewithal to approach Lara and they talk, which makes us wonder whether the inability to communicate was the fault of Miles, Lara, Alaska, or some weird combination of all three.

And Lara? She forgives Miles right away because she's that big-hearted and understanding. This doesn't stop her from being a little more than annoyed with Miles, though:

We talked—about Alaksa and about the past month, about how she had to miss me and miss Alaska, while I only had to miss Alaska. (46after.12)

We're left wondering why it is Miles is obsessed with Alaska and not nice, dependable, Lara. Perhaps he thinks the forbidden fruit tastes sweeter, or the hurricane that was Alaska just pulled him in inexplicably. Regardless, we end up hoping that Lara has better luck with her next boyfriend.

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