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)
Nope, one trip through these unfortunate people's painful lives was enough for me.
Help me grow as a human.
Anyone. He was terrible. I could barely stand it.
Yes, there were many times my stomach turned. I felt like listening was a challenge. Like I could barely listen to the tale, and these people had to live it.
Should be required reading for everyone.
Unsure - I am using the audio version to jump around to different sections. It is a very long book, and I may not read it all.
The Noon Day Demon by the same author is similarly encyclopedic.
Great articulation, and he clearly cares about the people whose stories he tells.
In describing the lives of young criminals, I was amazed at the absence of any idea on their part that they should be making a contribution to society. Of course that's what sociopaths do. But I was stunned that they drive nicer cars than I do, father more children than I did, dress better than I do, but they've never thought about getting a job. In contrast I've had a job since I was 10 and I'm 65 and still at it.
The section on young criminals, and the one on child prodigies are highly recommended.
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.
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.
The author did a magnificent job all the way through research, writing and reading!
A must-read for everyone; above all, it should be made compulsory reading for all high-school students, worldwide, in order to make this world a better, a more tolerant world!
This book is so beautifully written and important. I recently discovered my child is not who I thought she was and I am not afraid. No matter what you are going through this book will be relevant.
Should be required reading for everyone
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