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Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity Hardcover – November 13, 2012
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That chapter was so good, I moved to the crime chapter and stayed up way too late because I could not put it down. Thank you, Mr. Solomon for pointing out the absurdities in our justice system when it comes to dealing with juvenile crime. (And as for the reviewer who questioned including crime at all, this book focuses on any possible way that a child can turn out different than their parents expected, and being guilty of a crime definitely seems appropriate to me.) I learned a lot from this chapter, and was particularly fascinated by the Klebolds' story. Once again, Soloman wrote with sensitivity about a very difficult and controversial topic.
From there I read the chapter on dwarfism, and then finally turned to the first pages of the book and started reading the beginning! I wanted to learn about how families deal with a diagnosis of autism; instead I learned about how families deal with all kinds of unexpected outcomes, how resilient parents can be when faced with hardships, and how connected are the identities of parents and their children. As a parent, I understand the constant struggle to balance who we want our children to be and who they actually are. "There is no such thing as reproduction" may be my new mantra.
One more thing: in 700 pages (okay, I admit, I didn't read the Acknowledgments) I never found an example of "martyrdom" that one reviewer complained about.Read more ›
This is the question posed by award-winning writer Andrew Solomon in "Far From The Tree." How do parents deal with raising a child who isn't what they expected him or her to be? What if the child is autistic? Deaf? Has Down Syndrome? And how much does nurture have to do with the people our children become? Or is it more due to nature?
Solomon began writing this book twelve years ago, after attending a protest of deaf students who opened his eyes to seeing people with `differences' as not having disabilities, but having their own unique gifts. He follows the lives of many families who are faced with the challenge of raising children who are profoundly different than they expected them to be. Each of these stories reveals in their own way the nature of humanity, the unconditional love of parents for their children, and the desire for all humans to be valued as individuals.
Solomon also shines a spotlight on his own upbringing. The gay son of heterosexual parents, who was also dyslexic and bullied for not conforming to the stereotypical expectations of what a typical male should be, Solomon reveals how he overcame his insecurities to not only accept himself, but to decide to become a father.
The book offers a world of information on particular conditions; it ponders the wider implications of choice and identity for both the parents and the children dealing with dwarfism, deafness, criminality, etc. And just as learning you are not alone with a special gift or disability can be liberating for an individual person, so learning that other families are dealing with the same conditions can give heart to parents who feel isolated. Moreover, those who have had to focus on one particular condition will be led to see wider commonalities. All of us know someone who is profoundly different from their parents. And because Mr. Solomon brings coherence to the book by thinking across conditions, he implicitly opens the way for thinking about analogous conditions not specifically covered.
What is most deeply moving is Mr. Solomon's ability to portray each individual as a unique person. The book is full of voices and stories, a reminder that we are all always surrounded by people who are like us, different from us, and challenged in ways we've never thought of before. Together, they are sobering reminders of how deep the pain of the human condition can be, but also sources of inspiration and hope.
Mr. Solomon is never dogmatic.Read more ›
Solomon's research is solid and thorough and generally avoids the kind of "professionalese" that can sometimes infect scholastic writing of this nature. He has combined discussion of current scientific literature with extensive personal stories of families, and his accounts of these situations shows a real care for the people he has interviewed and spent hours and days and weeks with.
Solomon has included some situations many of us may not want to acknowledge or that may not even have crossed our radar as being problems for parents. We see stories of conventions of dwarfs or see a video clip of a child prodigy or read a news account of a juvenile crime spree or have our heartstrings tugged by Facebook entries about a Downs child named prom king, and we may not think of the parental struggles behind each of these diverse situations. Almost a dozen different challenges are presented chapter by chapter, giving us an opportunity to better understand how situations that are "not normal" tax even the most caring parents.
Each chapter stands almost alone in the coverage of a challenging parenting issue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gives a different and interesting perspective - makes you think in a new way!Published 9 days ago by Barbara Bond
Great analysis about disabilities and differences. Really enjoy reading it.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
should be read by everybody - parents, educators, leaders of society
Superb! -- profoundly insightful, compassionate and honest. The best non-fiction I have ever read. I am humbled by my increased understanding of people whom I have treated for more... Read morePublished 1 month ago by T. N. Rusk
It's like staring hard into the sun. Most painful of all were the women and children conceived through rape during war time. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sabrina
In a unique mix of nonfiction writing, Solomon presents a stunning take on family and our attitude about children. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Oblate