||2013 Powell's Staff Top 5s
Far From the Tree is the kind of book that fundamentally alters the way you see the world and your place in it. Each chapter is centered around a different horizontal identity, such as dwarfism, autism, and deafness. Solomon interviewed hundreds of people, assembling a staggering amount of information and narrative, but it is his ability to synthesize and summarize that elevates Far From the Tree into something extraordinary. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Books for a Better Life Award, and one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2012, this masterpiece by the National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon features stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so — “a brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity” (People).
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.
“Solomon’s first chapter, entitled ‘Son,’ is as masterly a piece of writing as I’ve come across all year. It combines his own story with a taut and elegant précis of this book’s arguments. It is required reading…This is a book that shoots arrow after arrow into your heart.” Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Solomon is a storyteller of great intimacy and ease…He approaches each family’s story thoughtfully, respectfully…Bringing together their voices, Solomon creates something of enduring warmth and beauty: a quilt, a choir.” Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
“It’s a book everyone should read and there’s no one who wouldn’t be a more imaginative and understanding parent—or human being—for having done so.” Julie Myerson
“A brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity.” Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“A careful, subtle, and surprising book.” Tina Calabro, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"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, starred review
"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
"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
"Solomon, a highly original student of human behavior, has written an intellectual history that lays the foundation for a 21st century Psychological Bill of Rights. In addition to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on the basis of race and religion, this Bill extends inalienable rights of psychological acceptance to people on the basis of their identity. He provides us with an unrivaled educational experience about identity groups in our society, an experience that is filled with insight, empathy and intelligence. We also discover the redefining, self-restructuring nature that caring for a child produces in parents, no matter how unusual or disabled the child is. Reading Far from the Tree is a mind-opening experience." Eric Kandel, author of The Age of Insight and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
"Andrew Solomon has written a brave and ambitious work, bringing together science, culture and a powerful empathy. Solomon tells us that we have more in common with each other — even with those who seem anything but normal — than we would ever have imagined." Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point
About the Author
Andrew Solomon is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the 2001 National Book Award; and of the critically acclaimed novel A Stone Boat. He is a lecturer in psychiatry at Cornell University, and Special Advisor on LGBT affairs to the Yale School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry. His journalism appears frequently in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Travel + Leisure, and Newsweek/The Daily Beast.