National Book Critics Circle Award, Nonfiction, 2013
From the National Book Award-winning author of the "brave...deeply humane...open-minded, critically informed, and poetic" (The New York Times) The Noonday Demon, comes a game-changer of a book about the impact of extreme personal and cultural difference between parents and children.
A brilliant and utterly original thinker, Andrew Solomon's journey began from his experience of being the gay child of straight parents. He wondered how other families accommodate children who have a variety of differences: families of people who are deaf, who are dwarfs, who have Down syndrome, who have autism, who have schizophrenia, who have multiple severe disabilities, who are prodigies, who commit crimes, who are transgender. Bookended with Solomon's experiences as a son, and then later as a father, this book explores the old adage that says the apple doesn't fall far from the tree; instead some apples fall a couple of orchards away, some on the other side of the world.
In 12 sharply observed and moving chapters, Solomon describes individuals who have been heartbreaking victims of intense prejudice, but also stories of parents who have embraced their childrens' differences and tried to change the world's understanding of their conditions. Solomon's humanity, eloquence, and compassion give a voice to those people who are never heard. A riveting, powerful take on a major social issue, Far from the Tree offers far-reaching conclusions about new families, academia, and the way our culture addresses issues of illness and identity.
©2012 Andrew Solomon (P)2012 Simon & Schuster, Inc
"In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon reminds us that nothing is more powerful in a child's development than the love of a parent. This remarkable new book introduces us to mothers and fathers across America - many in circumstances the rest of us can hardly imagine - who are making their children feel special, no matter what challenges come their way." (President Bill Clinton)
"This is one of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent times - brave, compassionate and astonishingly humane. Solomon approaches one of the oldest questions - how much are we defined by nature versus nurture? - and crafts from it a gripping narrative. Through his stories, told with such masterful delicacy and lucidity, we learn how different we all are, and how achingly similar. I could not put this book down." (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies)
"An informative and moving book that raises profound issues regarding the nature of love, the value of human life, and the future of humanity." (Kirkus)
I'm a recovering librarian. Since I had a stroke in 2002 I have found reading print difficult. I am so grateful for audiobooks.
It seemed to take me forever to read this audiobook because I kept re-reading what I had just heard. The honesty and respect for individuality is unique. Although the book is dense with research and background references, it is as readable as fiction.
At the end of each Chapter, I had to put it down to reflect on what I had just read. This book is as much about adult children and identity as it is about parenting.
I began telling friends, "You must read this book" by the end of the first section and my enthusiasm increased the more I read. I learned something even in the sections where I felt some familiarity with the subject.
Sections I considered skipping because they seemed irrelevant to me turned out to be the most thought provoking.
The people Solomon interviewed offer such a wide range of personal opinions; it was clear that Solomon can balance widely different conclusions and have them all be true.
“Far from the Tree” is so much more than promised by the title. It consists of twelve distinct, fascinating and perspective-changing chapters that weave into a cohesive story of love and resilience. The author performs flawlessly, not so much because he is a professional narrator, but because this story is told from his heart.
Before listening to this book I questioned whether or not I would be able to sustain interest for 40 hours, but as soon as it started I was hooked. Hours flew by like minutes and I devoured this book until the very end.
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.
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.
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"
? does the prospect of parenthood seem daunting to you
? do you have strained relations with your parents or children
? do you struggle to just understand members of your own family
andrew solomon has written a vast and well-researched 2 part book for you
the miles travelled and calories burned, in writing this book, are impressive
i suspect, it will incentivize other lesser writers to explore this topic
the 1st book involves dwarfism, autism, deafness, schizophrenia and down's
the tone is empathetic and insightful / the emphasis is on fixing the problem
mr. solomon puts his subjects at ease as he draws out their stories
the 2nd book involves rape, MSD, crime, prodigies, transgender and father/son
the tone is a bit caustic and preachy / the emphasis is on fixing the blame
mr. solomon seems to use his subjects to make his personal point
overall, the book's empathy and patience and time invested are impressive
however, mr. solomon is clear eyed and critical when he needs to be
especially when risks aren't assessed and mistakes are made repeatedly
in the future, i hope the book's scope may extend beyond our shores
american medicine is such an outlier compared to other 1st world countries
we just love invasive surgery, expensive drugs and the latest therapeutic fad
? could it be that other, less affluent, cultures have answers for these issues
? if the book's struggles truly are universal, there may be better foreign answers
i'd be interested to know how the world's most ancient cultures approach them
mr. solomon is an operatic, depressed, misunderstood, gay, jewish new yorker
it's impressive how often he fits these attributes into his subjects stories
this tendency is so persistent that it's almost anthropomorphic
mr. solomon has written a truly great book that will help many people
but his own story is not as important as the story of his subjects
he's a more than talented writer and, in time, he'll learn to get out of the way
This book is for people who have never given a thought to the differences among people. Perhaps people who stereotype others. Or who lack empathy. It is not at all interesting or entertaining. Solomon colors his discoveries by his own sad youth of not being able to express himself as a gay person growing up.
book of goddess
I recommend this book to people ALL THE TIME. The YouTube channel is great as well.
He's not a performer, but a narrator, and I think it's really cool he read it. He has an interesting voice. If it took more than 40 hours to read the finished version, how many hours total did he sit around and read this?! I'm so impressed with this man. He is one of my heroes!
All the rawness. I was most into the Schizophrenia, Autism, Down Syndrome, and Dwarfism chapters. He mentions how most parents find out their kid is Down Syndrome before birth or at birth, and find out their kid is autistic after a couple years, but don't learn about schizophrenia until years later, which is cruelest of all. It's similar to Alzheimer's in that parts of the brain are actually damaged.
I've had the hard copy version of this book for years, and got really into it, but had a heck of a time picking it up and reading it - literally. It was so heavy! Overwhelmed and wanting to finish it, I bought the audio version and was able to power through it. This book is so good, brilliant. It's SO important for us to accept people and their differences, and try to understand what parents and families are going through as they struggle with the challenges of raising extraordinary children. My teen daughter has severe anxiety, depression, hallucinates, hears voices, has visions... I read the chapter on Schizophrenia with hyper awareness and fear. I vow to do whatever I can to maintain her health. We are trying an approach where we are open and matter-of-fact about her symptoms, and taking advantage of any services and therapy we can obtain. I think many people try and hide mental illness, which internalizes it and makes it worse, pushing them to a breaking point.
It's 40 hrs long, so that represents a challenge.
Exceptionally well written piece. One of the top 10 books I have ever read. The author offered insights from many varying perspectives to provide the reader with a 360 degree view of a given chapters focus whether it be a child born of rape, deafness, mental illness, etc. All offering a full picture from many voices - while the author offers his overarching accumulated knowledge and parallels from his personal life.
The one chapter that felt unlike the others, was that on criminality. It seemed to be more narrow, clearly not offering the reader the 360 degree view as did the other chapters. I intended to write to the author about this. His overall ability to uncover the depth and nuance of variations in family relationships is masterful. Exceptionally well done book, overall.
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