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)
A friend whom I trust recommended this tome, and tome it is! But so worth reading. I enjoyed listening to it, even though it was 40 hours plus! It is read by the author, a person who will never make a living as a voice...but it was excellent to hear him put the emphasis where, as an author, he wanted it to be.
My biggest take-away from the book is that we each rise to the task at hand and deal with what we need to deal with.
Andrew Solomon shows keen insight and never-failing compassion with every interview for this book. He is especially good with parents. Parenting is soul-shaking work-- how wonderful to hear of the experiences of others doing this work in honest, unflinching, and loving writing.
No... I think he's said all he can say.
I listened to the ted talk by Andrew Solomon and was moved so much by the power in his words I had to get the book. It was a really lengthy reiteration of the ted talk. There is a lot of repetition and very long anectdotes that don't really add anything new to the concepts he is trying to present.
Narration was fine.
Maybe this is a good book, but we just became too impatient with the first part to find out. We started listening to it on a long drive; but after two or three hours we gave up on it because we just got bored with a seemingly interminable preamble in which the author vaguely indicates what is to come but talks much of the time in bland generalities.
Informative yet intimate
- very long, a good value
- very informative
- provides a lot of food for thought and perspectives I hadn't considered
- stories with a lot of human interest
came close to crying a few times. some very heavy stuff.
it makes you think a lot about things that can go wrong in life (or sometimes pre-life), which is a huge bummer. I felt sad a lot while listening to this book, but I was extremely engaged. warning: this book has an entire section that talks about rape, and the consequences thereof, so a trigger warning may be warranted for people who are sensitive to such material. I didn't get "triggered" as much as slowly I felt sickened and saddened by these stories in particular.
One of the very best.
The sections on deafness and dwarfism are, by far, the strongest in the book.
Andrew Solomon was a peerless narrator for his own book because he could accurately reenact the dialogue from the interviews that make-up the book.
True happiness can come from parenting any and every child, and it always comes from the same source: when the parent stops seeing the child as a narcissistic extension of him- or herself
The book is separated into subject sections and some are excellent and some are much weaker. The sections on deafness and dwarfism, for instance, were so interesting I didn't want to do anything else but stay home and listen to them. However, the sections on musical prodigies was so thin and repetitive that I was tempted to skip around just to make it move faster. I would also like to add that, as a geneticist, I was sincerely impressed with both the authors grasp of the concepts and his ability to convey them to a non-expert.
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.
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.
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