UMM, CAN I HAVE THE AUDIO VERSION, PLZ!!
Yes. I would recommend Far From the Tree to people who are not my friends because everyone should read Andrew Solomon's great and important work. His treatment is a gift, and offers an important opportunity to learn.
This was a very long book with great emotional impact. It is very heartfelt and sincere and one of the most moving books I have read. I usually am wary of authors who read their own books, but the emotion of the author adds meaning to this text and is an important part of the experience. The book is a very personal exploration of the experience of parenthood of children who fall 'far from the tree'. The author interviews hundreds of families, focusing on parents with children who are 'different'. Most are children who are different from 'typical' society as well as different from their parents. The author refers to the identity shared with others not of the family as 'horizontal' identity. This is distinguished from a 'vertical' identity from family membership (i.e. father down to son). However the book also studies the issue of parents who purposefully or incidentally conceive children who share their horizontal identity. The issues the book raises are complex, emotional, and sometimes challenging and frustrating (not in terms of comprehension but rather in terms of experiencing emotionally difficult subject matter and politically/philosophically/religiously sensitive views). The book explores the limits of human morality and human dignity. The author concludes that the ability to sustain a horizontal identity with the love and support of parents and family is critical to a happy life for people whose lives are considered 'not typical' and that the ability to accept and embrace these horizontal identities -especially when it is foreign to us- is part of what 'love' requires.
I cannot say it is the 'best' book I ever read, or even the best I have read recently, but it is one of the most meaningful ones due to the weight of its subject. It's about identity, parental love, loss, fulfillment, disability, eugenics, abortion - pretty weighty stuff. What is wonderful about this book is that it presents the reader with the situation that initially faced the unwary parents and then pushes you to look at the situation from different perspectives. It discusses the implications of actions that are very emotional and asks you - or maybe forces you to examine the logical or illogical conclusions of your own beliefs and prejudices and those of the parents involved. It asks you to consider what you take for granted and what you are willing to reconsider in light of what you hear.
The book stemmed from the author's own experience of growing up gay with parents who initially rejected that identity in their son. He seems to have suffered his own homophobia as a result even after he grew comfortable as an adult with a gay identity. Thus, the question of identity and parental love is central to his quest to understand the many identities of the people in the different groups he studies - deaf children, those with autism, Downs Syndrome children, criminal children, schizophrenics, etc. Sometimes the book bogs down with all the different identities and examples, but it is always valuable and sincere and the multiplicity of examples helps to illuminate different aspects of the issues.
The book ends with a discussion of the author's own decision to become a parent. It's thus a very personal book as well as a study of parents and children with 'horizontal identities'. It is very focused on parental love and unconditional love and the nature of acceptance. Although I highly recommend the book, I think those who find it most satisfying will be those with some connection to people with horizontal identities or readers with very open minds willing to ask themselves questions that don't always have easy or evident answers.
I remained intrigued throughout the many hours of this book, as preconceived ideas about ability and disability fell one after another.
I have never read any book like this one.
I was wary of listening to an author read his own book, but Solomon does an excellent job and makes it all seem very intimate, as if you are along on each interview.
I will never look at people with differences in the same way.
Andrew Solomon covered so much information in this book, but I wished there was more. The sign of a great scientist, he left me with so many questions: what about the children who aren't from affluent families? What will happen as these children age?
The author, as a narrator, was disappointing. I couldn't help but imagine him standing at a lectern presenting a paper to a large group of students. Instead, I wanted to envision him interacting with those he interviewed.
His material engaged me. His presentation didn't. I heartily recommend this book in spite of "the reader"
The whole tone of the book is whiny and self indulgent. Feel like the author wanted to write an autobiography and just lumped other topics to reach a wider audience.
No just from this author
A different narrator couldn't have saved this awfulness.
I abandoned this after the underlying arrogant assumption that being gay somehow made him an empathetic authority on everything else - race, disability, dwarfism - finally got on my nerves.
I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.
Far from the Tree (FFTT) is a structured summary of selected childhood disabilities and challenging behaviors. The science and personal family stories associated with these disabilities/challenges are expertly woven together by the author and narrator, Andrew Solomon. The strengths of FFTT are the insights and revelations made by author when documenting the affected family’s thoughts/feelings relative to caring for an atypical child. Some of the disabilities/challenges Solomon takes on include Deafness, Autism, Dwarfs, Prodigies, Children born of Rape, and Transgender. Solomon breaks down each chapter according to a single disability and gives the reader/listener a complete analysis of the subject.What makes FFTT different from any other books on disabilities/challenges is Solomon provides such an expansive view of the subject. He provides both the science and family affect. For example, in the chapter of Autism there are discussions of the behavioral symptoms, early indicators, parental response to the diagnosis, parental adjustment to the diagnosis, physiological explanations (brain), treatment options, interactions with schools, early intervention, and descriptions of the day to day existence of caring for a child with special needs. Instead of writing a paragraph on each subject, Solomon blends the information together to create a compelling and realistic picture of the experiences encountered by the families. It is this blending process that makes FFTT deeply personal and realistic. The reader is not simply spoon fed a list of facts, but provided facts in relation to how family’s deal and respond to a particular challenge. What will readers get out of FFTT? Readers will learn how families cope and respond to having an atypical child. Readers will learn about the science various disabilities and behavioral challenges of atypical children. Readers will admire how many of these affected families pull themselves out of the shock of having an atypical child and become great parents.
This is the best audiobook I have ever listened to.
His voice is incredibly easy to listen to for 40 hours!
Yes! I couldn't put it down, so to speak.
I now know what it means what it means when someone says that something is like "music to my ears". The author's language, storytelling, and insights fed my mind in ways very similar to a beautiful song. My mind and my heart swirled into one as I listened to many of his brilliantly constructed sentences. It's not just a well-researched book on humanity, family, adversity, and courage. It is also an artistic masterpiece that touched my emotions and intellect. Seriously good audiobook.
Really enjoyed this. Solomon interweaves individuals personal stories within the context of the historical and social issues of many different conditions that separate a child's identity from their parents. Very thought provoking and moving at the same time without being preachy. You can't read this without coming away from it a changed person.
If every person in America read this book thoughtfully, we would see far reaching positive repercussions. Solomon delves into hundreds of lives and describes how they manage the lot they were given. He knew each family personally for years as he compiled the book. It is a long book, but the quickest way to appreciate the human experience, central to which is parenting.
I bought this book immediately after watching a TED talk the Author did. If you see the talk, it is easy to gauge the tone of the book and Andrew Solomon's exhaustive research and empathy for the people it is about.
This is not an easy read, children suffering incurable mental and physical illnesses and the exhaustive work of there parents sometimes with no hope of any light at the end of the tunnel is what your in for. Be warned
I was interested in this book, because my 2year old son was born with TAPVR, and was in need of immediate emergency by-pass surgery at birth, to the complete surprise of my wife and I. He is a very happy and healthy boy now and will have a complete and full life the same as any healthy child.
Many of the parents at the hospital we go to for his check ups have children that are no where near as lucky. It is with the realization that these are normal people whom have had a tremendous burden and responsibility placed on them and are doing the best they can with love and strength, There greatest worry is whom will help care for my child when I die?
I would not recommend this book to anyone who is pregnant, it will fill you with unneeded worry about the healthy birth of your child, do not buy this book.
Otherwise it is a great book (indeed it could of been many books) Andrew Solomon is a fantastic writer and thankfully he narrates the book himself, a man of amazing empathy, taking on a subject that society would rather did not exist.