Customer Reviews for

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we ar

How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we are?

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 ch...
How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we are?

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? Or has dwarfism? And how much does nurture have to do with the people our children become? Or is it more due to nature, or genetics that are unchangeable?

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.

Don't get me wrong, though. Not all parents succeed at raising their children to excel and rise above any cultural prejudices. Some fail, but that is unfortunately the nature of life, I suppose. Combining the successes with failures adds to the completeness of this book.

While putting the main focus on the families he describes in eloquent detail, 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.

As a father myself, I found Solomon's stories moving, inspiring, and thought-provoking. At times I wondered whether I would have the inner strength of many of the parents in this book. I would like to think so.

Reading this book made me think of two other exceptional books that also deal with unique parenting challenges. I highly recommend them as nice companions to Solomon's book.

Anthony Youn's "In Stitche"s successfully spotlights the clash that occurs when immigrant, old-school parents raise a child in today's America. How do children react when their parents push them excessively, causing them to become social outcasts? Youn's struggle to deal with his parents' expectations and being the only ethnic minority in his entire town, are at times humorous, moving, and inspiring. It has shades of the controversial book "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", but is a much more entertaining and empathetic read.

"Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety" is a memoir I recently discovered from Daniel Smith, a person challenged with severe anxiety issues all his life. Smith details his sometimes funny but always revealing methods he used to deal with anxiety, both as a child and in adulthood. His mother and their relationship is also a big part of his story. I enjoyed this one.

posted by 7970514 on November 15, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

read if you only want one side of the story

I found this book very unsettling. You possibly would like it if you come from the same perspective or opinion as the author. I found the research to be outdated and the interviews he selected were of his same bias. There is so much to the story. I am speaking on the "...
I found this book very unsettling. You possibly would like it if you come from the same perspective or opinion as the author. I found the research to be outdated and the interviews he selected were of his same bias. There is so much to the story. I am speaking on the "Deaf" chapter. He evidently has not done his homework outside of the Deaf culture (which of course deserves to be celebrated) because there are some amazing stories for deaf and hard of hearing kids who are communicating through spoken language that also deserve to be celebrated. He told none of those stories. Not an accurate picture in my opinion. Very misleading.

posted by 3647165 on March 26, 2013

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