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)
“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.
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"
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.
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.
Female, Military Background, Mother, Wife. Enjoys Science, Medicine (in particular viruses and diseases).
Once again, he has written about something that deeply touches my life. First came The Noonday Demon in which he thoroughly catalogs many aspects of my illness, depression, in such a loving and human way as to shame other books on the topic for being brusque and unfeeling. Now he writes about family and individual dynamics between children and adults. I may require my daughters to read this book before middle or high school to help teach about being a human being in society without being a jerk about it.
Mr. Solomon, once again, thank you.
I loved this book so much. It's one of the only books where I said, 'oh darn, there's only 13 hours of this book left!!'.
Read beautifully by the author, it's written so well, encompassing a massive range of parental experiences. He has genuine compassion and empathy for these parents and their children. It's a deeply moving and humbling book. JUST GET IT.
Andrew Solomon is the kind of non-fiction writer that is extremely rare these days. He does not set out to force his opinions down your throat nor preach simplified solutions to complex problems. He simply describes the worlds that people with what he refers to as horizontal identities have to deal with and how this world affect those around them. While doing so he devotes chapters to various groups of such identities. A horizontal identity here refers to one not passed down from the parent and can be a physical issues such as deafness, dwarfism, downs syndrome or a social one like criminality. He goes into transgender issues and schizophrenia and you feel listening to it that each of these chapters could have been a book in itself.
The strength of the book is his ability to relate the stories behind the issues; he has an amazing gift for making the people real and through listening to him you really do share in their struggles and triumphs. He rarely judges them but describes many of the ethical issues parents in particular have to deal with.
I would highly recommend this book.
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