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Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity | [Andrew Solomon]

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (439 )
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4.1 (372 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lineke HANOVER, MA, United States 01-25-13
    Lineke HANOVER, MA, United States 01-25-13
    ratings
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    4
    2
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    "Gripping"

    Gripping, comprehensive research on parenting a different child. The author's heartfelt narration made me feel intimately connected to his material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kris R optional 01-21-13
    Kris R optional 01-21-13 Member Since 2012

    optional

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    2
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    "Excellent Book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Far from the Tree to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version but I did quite enjoy the audio version. It was set up well for an audio book.


    What about Andrew Solomon’s performance did you like?

    Mr Solomon's performance was great. I loved it.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Very long book, so had to be listened to over a couple weeks.


    Any additional comments?

    I was sad when the book ended; I wanted to keep learning.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Courtney Nichols 01-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    1
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    "great content but hard to listen to"
    Any additional comments?

    I was very excited to listen to this book as the topics and interviews sounded fascinating. It has a lot of wonderful content, but it seems to drag on quite a bit. It may seem this way on audio, if not when read, but each chapter seems to wander and not feel well organized. I also do not enjoy the author's voice and with such a long book this is particularly frustrating. As excited as I was to get this book, I find it so difficult to listen to that I've only gotten about one third of the way through and have gone ahead and bought another audio book to listen to on my commute. I hope I'll be able to finish Far from the Tree in small chunks.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Poland, OH, United States 12-31-12
    Suzanne Poland, OH, United States 12-31-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Differend Narrator Please"
    Would you try another book from Andrew Solomon and/or Andrew Solomon?

    Not unless it was abridged.


    What didn’t you like about Andrew Solomon’s performance?

    Nothing. He is a researcher and author but not an actor.


    Any additional comments?

    I haven't finished it. It is great information but too many unnecessary details.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fredrica 12-29-12
    Fredrica 12-29-12
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    "Captivating, Riveting, an Essential book."

    This book has changed how I view people, including myself, for the better. With extraordinary empathy and respect, Solomon tells the stories of parents who raise children who are significantly different from themselves. He illuminates the complex challenges faced by both parents and children and describes how people from all walks of life address those challenges, including both successful and less successful outcomes. Differences include Down Syndrome, Dwarfism, children of rape, Deafness, Autism, transgender children, Schizophrenia, precocious children, criminal children, profound disability (I may have forgotten one or two).

    This is a LONG book (6 downloads), yet I could not put it down - I kept looking for opportunities to keep listening. I am now grieving the end of the book. Solomon reads the book himself, and the respect and empathy shines through in his telling.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a parent, works with disabled people, or was ever a child.....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 12-28-12
    Susan Brady, LCSW Palo Alto, CA United States 12-28-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant thoughtful treatise on the family"
    What made the experience of listening to Far from the Tree the most enjoyable?

    Solomon has done an incredible job in focusing and illustrating how families stay healthy for all their members. His writing is excellent and he was, surprising to me, the perce t reader for the book. I read the entire book in a week. Amazing and wonderful.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Each of the families he interviews and described.


    What about Andrew Solomon’s performance did you like?

    Excellent. Not one false note.


    Any additional comments?

    This book should get a Pulitzer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen United States 12-26-12
    Kathleen United States 12-26-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unforgettable"

    This is definitely the best nonfiction book I read in 2012. The chapters that dealt with individuals in groups I was familiar with, sometimes even close to, were so disturbingly true, that they were painful to listen to. But because those chapters were so true and so real, I felt the chapters on other "different" types of individuals--ones I have not known--were probably very accurate as well. Solomon did a fabulous job reading this book with its many quotations from individuals he personally interviewed. I do not believe a reader other than Solomon would have been able to deliver these powerful and at times heartbreaking words with as much veracity as he did.

    This book is a tour de force. It was a long read, but at the end I felt it was worth every minute I spent with it. I learned a great deal, and I had much of what I have known in my life confirmed. It renewed my sense of the complexity of deep human experience, both positive and negative, in the lives of ordinary people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa 12-13-12
    Melissa 12-13-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A bit rambly"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The narrator is also the author. His tone is kind of annoying.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I enjoyed the stories, but less so the author's dissection of them.


    What three words best describe Andrew Solomon’s performance?

    Meh. Meh. Meh.


    Was Far from the Tree worth the listening time?

    I skipped over parts, so I guess not.


    Any additional comments?

    Interesting but a bit too lengthy.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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