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The Farm

A Novel
Narrated by: Fran de Leon
Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
4 out of 5 stars (96 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules.

“[Joanne] Ramos’s debut novel couldn’t be more relevant or timely.” [O: The Oprah Magazine (25 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019)]

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages - and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here - more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks - or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.

Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Advance praise for The Farm:

“This topical, provocative debut anatomizes class, race and the American dream.” (The Guardian, “What You’ll Be Reading This Year”)

“Wow, Joanne Ramos has written the page-turner about immigrants chasing what’s left of the American dream.... Truly unforgettable.” (Gary Shteyngart, New York Times best-selling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success)

“A highly original and provocative story about the impossible choices in so many women’s lives. These characters will stay with me for a long time.” (Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times best-selling author of The Age of Miracles and The Dreamers)

“Ramos has written a firecracker of a novel, at once caustic and tender, page-turning and thought-provoking. This is a fierce indictment of the vampiric nature of modern capitalism, which never loses sight of the very human stories at its center.... Highly recommended.” (Madeline Millernumber one New York Times best-selling author of Circe)

©2019 Joanne Ramos (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

The Farm is a smart, thoughtful novel about women, choices, and the immigrant experience that asks the question: How far would you go for the American dream?” (PopSugar, “Buzzy Books to Read This Spring”)

“Perhaps the most powerful element of this debut novel by Ramos, who was born in Manila and moved to Wisconsin when she was six, is its portrait of the world of Filipinas in New York. The three-page soliloquy of instructions for nannying delivered to Jane by her more experienced cousin is a work of art in itself.... Excellent.” [Kirkus Reviews (starred review)]

“Transfixing... Ramos particularly shines at her nuanced, emotional depictions of these women’s interior struggles. A surefire hit with book groups, this striking novel will also appeal strongly to readers who like dystopian touches and ethically complicated narratives.” (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent novel!

I couldn’t wait for this book to come out and I listened practically non stop. Very interesting subject matter. It will pull at your heart strings and make your blood boil. I know I was yelling in the kitchen while listening and my husband looked in like I was crazy! The characters feel so real! I have no complaints about this book. It moved swiftly and the narration was great.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Good Premise, but-

The book itself is a statement piece. There is little growth for the main character. She doesn’t triumph over her struggles. If you are looking for that kind of character development you won’t get it here. Jane is the same person in the end as she was when her story begins. Caution is her only gain.

The author describes this work as a “window” into the life of an immigrant. She explores the lengths they will go to get a piece of that “American Dream”. The sacrifice of their autonomy to put money in the bank. Something most Americans will never do because we enjoy our freedom of choice and our right to not save a dime.

Golden Oaks (The Farm) is a luxurious spa for surrogates (hosts) who sign over their autonomy with the enticement of big bucks. These women cut themselves off from their everyday lives and dedicate their bodies and mental and emotional energies to growing fetuses for wealthy patrons that either cannot reproduce or simply do not have the time in their busy schedules for such an undertaking.

Most of the Hosts are poor immigrants. This story focuses mostly on the Filipino experience where we meet Jane, who when fired from her job as a baby caregiver, is manipulated into signing on at “Golden Oaks.”

The most powerful element of this story is the presence of low-key racism in the exploitation of women. Most of The Farms clients prefer the rare white host, which becomes an untapped market in consideration for expansion by the proprietors.
It’s all about the business, After All.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Captivating

The characters are interesting. They are different as individuals but a like in their longing to find purpose in the world around them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing Storyline

The idea and concept of the book is very interesting... but the storyline was terrible and didn’t go anywhere.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Slow

The story line actually had meat but was smothered in boring tedious word gravy. The women’s revelations and problems were not written dynamically enough and the singsong monotone reading did not help. I am dissatisfied the author did not do justice to the women in the book. This poor review may also be this is not my genre.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extremely engrossing and hard to put down.

This book held my interest right from the start and all the way through the end. Although it is an examination of class and socioeconomics, it is handled with sensitivity so that (as in life perhaps) there are no 100% good guys and no 100% bad guys. This is a difficult feat to perform these days when it appears that the dictates of the literary world require casting characters who desire and acquire status and material gains in life as villains

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • LG H
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • 05-19-19

Excellent

I loved this book. Subject is interesting and gives you a lot to consider about the ethics of the situation. If you are paying for a surrogate, do you have her best interest in mind. Or do you just consider the baby's health or possibly the client. Excellent narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Ending was boring (but realistic)

This book was good, and I will be recommending it to some of my friends, but not all- simply due to the fact that the ending was... well, really bland. When the narrator said “Epilogue” I was pretty pissed. However, I do have to say that at least the way it ended was realistic. I hate it when books are trying so hard to be entertaining that they go too far off reality. I must say that the narrator was an absolute treasure. The narrator nailed every character’s voice consistently, so I always knew who was talking. Looking back, I was really enjoying the book whenever I listened, and the topic of the book was very intriguing, but I wish there would have been a crazy plot twist at the end or something but maybe that’s just my personal taste! One nit-picky thing about the book that really annoyed me, was how much “a lot of money” was mentioned, but never HOW much. Money was always described as “a decent amount” or “a lot”. “A lot of money” means different amounts to different people. I wanted to really know how much each host was getting paid, not just relative amounts, but actual numbers.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Annoying and boring

I tried to like this book but found it so boring and annoying I couldn’t finish it.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful