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Far From the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood Paperback – December 5, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1432737399 ISBN-10: 1432737392

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (December 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1432737392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1432737399
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,402,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Finalist in the 2009 Indie Book Awards!

"A life story steeped in all things American...an unforgettable read cover to cover." --The Midwest Book Review

Review

"Far From the Trees contains a potent message. This literary debut reveals promise that will lead to more in the future. Miracles can happen. This book is living proof."

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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He makes you laugh outloud.
J. Gamble
Any American citizen growing up in the 60's and 70's will be able to recount stories similar to Wellman's.
Nada Rider
Michael Wellman has a gift for observation and a marvelous memory of the details and oddities of the era.
TAMRA PHIPPS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nada Rider on December 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
An older brother with a legendary reputation casts a long shadow over his little brother, Mike. Any American citizen growing up in the 60's and 70's will be able to recount stories similar to Wellman's. Raised in an idyllic neighborhood in the tree-lined streets of Des Moines, Iowa, Mike's tales of youthful antics and abuses parallel those in communities across the country. Easy access to alcohol and drugs pushed an intelligent, sensitive All-American boy from neighborhood ball games to quarterbacking to falling on his face in a short number of blissful/tragic years. Facing the loss of many of his youthful friends to death, illness and addiction has brought him to a new appreciation and love of life, family and community. There are some great laughs and bleak moments in this book. The reader is faced with many new questions about how, as a generation, we slipped into a dangerous abyss without our parents knowing what was happening to us. There is great hope in recovery.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Sue Warner on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
This wonderful memoir follows the life of Michael Wellman, his siblings, and other children of four neighboring families as they grow up in a midwestern city beginning in the 1950s. It is partly a fond and funny look back at the small things that loomed large in their childhoods, from Superman to rough-and-tumble neighborhood games to Beatles haircuts, and partly a harrowing tale of substance abuse and addiction, as the kids grow up amid the turmoil and cultural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s.

Wellman writes in an engaging, intimate, conversational way that is sometimes laugh-out-loud funny ("I used to wonder what Superman did about BMs, eventually surmising that they were Clark Kent's responsibility") and sometimes beautifully reverent, as when writing of his much-loved father, "On Sunday mornings he'd squat, facing me, to knot my tie, toothpasty gusts wafting over me like the breath of God. He tied good knots. I believed in him."

Wellman's honest and revealing story of the progression of his own alcoholism and drug abuse, of the impact of the cultural phenomenon of substance abuse on his small neighborhood, and of his eventual recovery and grateful return to "living memorably again" make for a compelling and thought-provoking read. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Gamble on January 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
This story could have described neighborhoods all over America in the 60s. Kids were left to run their own games and rule the great outdoors. Mom was home and Dad was bringing home the bacon. But beneath this Norman Rockwell existence things went terribly wrong. Millions of us experienced similar events, but Wellman has a unique ability to verbalize our emotions. He makes you laugh outloud. And he dares to discuss the elephants that sat in living rooms all over the country. Well done!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BPCoz on January 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read a lot. I never write reviews. In this case, I must. Being roughly the same age as Wellman and growing up in the same city, I was suddenly reliving my own youth; the traumas, the victories, the cacophony of the times and, yes, the freedom. I was there, but I never heard it expressed so well. Almost like the voiceover for a completely engaging film (think "A Christmas Story"), Wellman delivers a narrative that makes you feel like you're both seeing and feeling the experiences of his life, as well as observing the boys from Kingman and their families as time funnels them to now. There must be hope for those of us who lived through those crazy times. Wellman made it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Duncan on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
In this debut publication, Michael Wellman captures the essence of growing up in the middle of the baby boom as a middle-class boy in Des Moines, Iowa during a time of tremendous cultural change. Though Wellman insists he was largely not influenced by the social upheaval happening all around him, the reader is led through a poignant rendering of the backdrop of the sixties and seventies as he recounts his life and the lives of the families that surrounded him in the Kingman Boulevard area. Wellman pours out his heart and soul as he reveals his personal struggle with alcoholism and tells the stories of his friends from the neighborhood and the many tragedies that befell them. Wellman's writing style can be described as Brysonesque, but without the moments of burlesque that strain credulity. This is an honest portrayal that is highly readable (I couldn't put it down) and can be enjoyed by all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Reese on February 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Michael Wellman has produced an emotion-inspiring retrospective that had me running the gamut from literally laughing out loud to feeling a touch of heartbreak as tears slipped from my eyes. Rarely have I felt so connected to an author and his/her work. I could not allow myself to put the book down until it was finished for fear of losing the nostalgic memories of my own childhood. He's at his best when he writes about his parents, particulary his descriptions of his father. As I sat collecting my thoughts at its conclusion, I felt that sense of satisfaction one only gets from finishing a good book. I have just one question: What's next?
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Format: Paperback
Far from the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood is a true-life memoir of author Michael Wellman's coming of age in a small-town neighborhood. But Far from the Trees is not a tale of blissful idyll; though the author remembers many days when kids were free to have their fun outdoors, his memories also contain darker stories of a public health tragedy. Near-effortless access to alcohol and drugs had a severely destructive impact on Wellman's hometown, and he gives an insider's perspective of the unfolding tragedy. A life story steeped in all things American, revealing an up close and personal view of cultural turmoil, Far from the Trees is an unforgettable read cover to cover.
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