Solomon's startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition--that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or 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, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, Far from the Tree explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other--a theme in every family's life.
- ISBN-13: 9780743236720
- ISBN-10: 0743236726
- Publisher: Scribner Book Company
- Publish Date: October 2013
- Page Count: 962
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Set on a fictional Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota, Louise Erdrich’s chilling novel, The Round House, focuses on a Native American boy’s efforts to make sense of the world after a brutal crime. Joe is 13 when his mother, Geraldine, is raped near a sacred structure—the round house of the book’s title. The main suspect is white. When questions involving tribal courts and the prosecution of non-Natives complicate the legal proceedings, Joe seeks justice himself. Now an adult, he recounts this remarkable story after the fact, revisiting a turning point in his adolescence. With his girl-obsessed buddies, Joe goes on adventurous bike rides, plays the sleuth in hopes of finding his mother’s attacker and spends time with eccentric Ojibwe elders. Native American traditions contrast sharply with contemporary events, just one of many contradictions Joe struggles to reconcile. Winner of the National Book Award, this tightly plotted novel offers numerous discussion topics, including questions about gender, race and justice.
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, by National Book Award-winning author Andrew Solomon, is a groundbreaking exploration of parenthood and its attendant complexities. Solomon put 10 years of work into this expansive book, focusing on families with children who are “exceptional”—who suffer from autism, Down syndrome or schizophrenia, who are transgender or child prodigies, or even criminals. The results make for fascinating reading, as Solomon shares their experiences—the day-to-day difficulties and little victories that come with raising an outside-the-norm kid. Further enriching the narrative is the author’s own story. Solomon, who is dyslexic, says his condition posed no problems for his open-minded parents. It was his gayness that proved a challenge—for them and for him. This is a big-hearted book about the process of parenting, the meaning of personal identity and the nature of love. Because of the narrative’s length and complexity, reading groups should consider extending their reading and/or discussion time for the book.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Acclaimed author Junot Díaz returns with This Is How You Lose Her, a terrific short story collection that focuses on an inexhaustible topic: love. Featuring Yunior, an über-dude from the Dominican Republic, whom fans will recognize from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the collection explores the ways in which love influences the contemporary male. In “The Sun, the Moon, the Stars,” Yunior’s girlfriend, Magda, leaves him after she learns of his unfaithfulness through a letter. “Miss Lora” features a teenage Yunior who’s awakening to sex and who reflects on his difficult father and macho brother and the ways in which he resembles both. “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” finds Yunior settled in Boston, writing books and recovering from yet another breakup. In these electrifying stories, Díaz also explores the immigrant experience with spot-on insight. This exhilarating collection was nominated for the National Book Award, and it’s easy to see why.