Far From the Tree
Solomon’s startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or multiple severe disabilities; with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, Far from the Tree explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other—a theme in every family’s life.
Coalition Staff Member Review
Far From the Tree is a fascinating work of nonfiction that examines the unique nature of identity, family, and how differences are more unifying than divisive. What does it mean, for example, to be the parent of a child who is deaf when you are hearing? Or the parent of a child with dwarfism or schizophrenia? Or the parent of a child who was conceived in rape or who has become a criminal? Those are just a few of the topics explored in this deeply thought-provoking book.
Those pieces of self shared between parents and children are what author Andrew Solomon refers to as a “vertical identity.” Children, however, can also develop “horizontal identities,” such as when a deaf child born to hearing parents finds a strong sense of belonging in the deaf community. Thousands of hours of interviews went into the creation of this book and the result is moving and memorable. This is the kind of book that will continue to reveal new insights and revelations long after the final page.Author: Andrew Solomon