From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family.
In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.
Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion.
Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
This book is fantastic. Andrew Solomon has such empathy and clarity on the issues addressed in this book, and I worked through this book because of it. A deeply fascinating look at the human condition. However, to Audible, could you please consider inserting chapter titles in very long works like this. It is 31 hrs of listening, with 100 chapters. None of them have titles, so it's basically impossible to dip in and out of this book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Andrew Solomon's careful research into difference, whether through deafness, dwarfism,autism, criminality and all the other human conditions that he explores, gives the reader insight into the parenting of such children and the experience of the person concerned. Hopefully by understanding difference and diversity in the human condition, enhanced greatly by this book, we can become more tolerant and accepting of the great variety in what makes us human.
Would you listen to Far From The Tree again? Why?
Yes absolutely. It's a great reminder of what it is to be human!
What did you like best about this story?
I'm only half way through the book but the accounts of the individuals and their families living with 'difference' brings me to tears every time I listen. They are often extraordinary and inspiring and always incredibly emotive.
I feel my eyes are more open to the triumphs and difficulties of people all around me. If a book can lend itself to the fostering of empathy, then this is such a book.
Have you listened to any of Andrew Solomon’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is the first.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
All of it. I'm not directly connected to any of the challenging scenarios he is describing but so far I've been drawn deeply into each of them.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
The book brings together a nice sum of interviews and stories mixed with information. It has a very human approach, while discussing very sensitive issues.
This book is incredible. It is thoughtful, eye opening, mind blowing, heart filling, heart breaking and stunning. It is such an important piece of work that everyone in society should read. At least those of us who work with lots of different people and families. Thank you!
Andrew Solomon's book is one of the most incredible books I've ever read. The compassion and emotive detail with which he writes allows any reader to identify with and a relate to the extreme and foreign experiences of some of these parent-child relationships.
I listened to an interview he gave in a New Yorker podcast some years ago, which compelled me to buy his book. I am so glad that he chose to narrate this himself- although it takes a little getting used to.
This book improves with each chapter and starts off strong.
I tried but fell asleep on attempt one and deleted after 15 mins of attempt 2.
This book has taught me such a lot and has
given me a huge insight.
Solomon takes the reader/ listener on a fascinating journey into the fraught lives of parents dealing with unexpected difficulties and the children facing those difficulties. The clarity of the authors thinking is spellbinding and his insights are memorable. I often found myself in tears at not only the sadness of some of the situations but at the amazing resilience and love shown by those struggling to make sense of their lives. It is a wonderful book, rich in experience, hugely broad in scope and movingly sensitive. Unreservedly recommended.
It's tough at first but once I had heard a few chapters I found myself craving more and now that I have come to the end I am filled with sadness that there is no more. This book has changed the way I think, a rare and cherishable thing. Solomon's philosophy is beautiful and honest. I so recommend this book to absolutely any and every human being, the world would be a better place if it was read far and widely.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful