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)
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
Such a beautifully written and moving work. It combines a rich amount of information about a variety of people and identities I was unfamiliar with (I.e. I learned a lot about deafness and deaf culture) and also such amazing family portraits and interviews. The performance was generally clear and well read though occasionally the author's tone came across as droll or mismatched to either the tone or the accents and intonation of the quotations. I have been recommending this book far and wide and feel like it will stay with me for a long time.
What an epic story of love, hope, despair, and the human capability for resilience. I loved every chapter and enjoyed the countless stories. It was difficult at first keeping track of the different people, though I soon learned to just listen and understand what was being said. Once I did that it was easy to enjoy. What a great journey! Thank you Solomon!
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.
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