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 twelve 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.
This is a profoundly fascinating book. It is a thoroughly researched glimpse into worlds I knew nothing about. I couldn't put it down and yet at the same time, I couldn't wait to be finished with it. I was spellbound by the chapters on Deafness and Down Syndrome. Conversely, learning about the heartbreak of parents of autistic children or the treatment of women who have been raped was extremely disturbing to me. This is a book about hope, misery, and all points in between. I would recommend it but be forewarned that it will be uplifting and will break you heart.