The Farm

The Farm

by Joanne Ramos

Hardcover

$27.00
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, May 23

Overview

Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules.

People Book of the Week • “[Joanne] Ramos’s debut novel couldn’t be more relevant or timely.”—O: The Oprah Magazine (25 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019)

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child.

Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Praise for The Farm

“So many factors—gender, race, religion, class—may determine where you come down on the surrogacy debate. . . . Joanne Ramos plays with many of these notions in her debut novel, The Farm, which imagines what might happen were surrogacy taken to its high-capitalist extreme. . . . The stage is set for lively book chat.”The New York Times Book Review

“A thrilling read.”New York 

“Grippingly realistic.”Entertainment Weekly (“20 New Books to Read in May”)

“Brilliant.”New York Post (“Best Books of the Week”)

“A provocative idea, and Ramos nails it . . . Crisp and believable, this smart debut links the poor and the 1 percent in a unique transaction that turns out to be mutually rewarding.”People (Book of the Week)

“Wow, Joanne Ramos has written the page-turner about immigrants chasing what’s left of the American dream. . . . Truly unforgettable.”—Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984853752
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 716
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Joanne Ramos was born in the Philippines and moved to Wisconsin when she was six. She graduated with a B.A. from Princeton University. After working in investment banking and private-equity investing for several years, she became a staff writer at The Economist. She currently serves on the board of The Moth. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Read an Excerpt

It is Jane’s first day. Her interview at Golden Oaks was only six weeks ago, but it seems like everything has changed. An unknown baby lies in her stomach, and she is a hundred miles away from Amalia, surrounded by strangers. The smiling woman who greeted her in the Dorm’s lobby this morning took not only her suitcase and wallet but her cell phone, so Jane has no sense of the time, and she feels even more cut off from her daughter.
 
Jane rolls up her sleeve and extends her arm, wondering if she is getting another shot, and why, since she is already pregnant.
 
The Coordinator straps a bracelet onto Jane’s wrist, rubber or rubbery looking, and pushes a button that makes its thin, rectangular screen light up. “This is a WellBand. Custom-made for us. I gave you red ‘cause it was just Valentine’s day!” 

Jane stares at it. Mrs Davis used to wear something like it, a circle of blue plastic like a child’s toy that looked strange next to her diamond tennis bracelet, the gleaming ovals of her nails. 
 
“It tracks your activity levels. Try jumping.”
 
Jane begins to jump.
 
“See?” the Coordinator angles the bracelet face toward Jane. The green zeroes that had once filled the screen have been replaced by orange numbers that climb steadily as Jane hops, growing short of breath.
 
“You can stop,” says the Coordinator, but in a friendly way. She holds Jane’s wrist and guides the bracelet over a reader attached to a laptop until the reader bleeps. “There. Now you’re synched up with our Data Management Team. Let’s say your heart rate spikes—this happens, it’s usually no biggie, but it can also signal some underlying irregularity in your heart, pregnancy being a strain on your tick-tocker,” the Coordinator—Carla?—pauses, waiting for the severity of this possibility to set in. “We’ll know immediately, can whisk you in to see a nurse. Or if you’re not getting enough exercise, we’ll have Hanna all over it.” Carla grins, “All over you.” Her freckled cheeks fold into dimples. Jane has never seen so many freckles in her life—freckles on top of freckles receding into freckles.
 
“Hanna…?”
 
“She’s our Wellness Coordinator. You’ll get to know her real well,” Carla winks at Jane. She runs through a tutorial of the WellBand—its various monitors, timers, the alarm and snooze and panic buttons, the GPS locator, calendar, alerts, how to receive announcements.
 
“How do the clothes fit?” Carla’s eyes rake over Jane, head to toe and back up again.  Jane feels her face grow hot. In truth, she has never worn clothes so thin and so soft. Just this morning in her winter coat, she was freezing. Ate and Amalia waited with her on the street outside their apartment building for the car to arrive, Amalia buried under so many layers of wool and fleece that Jane could barely see her face. But here, in clothes light as air that fit her perfectly, Jane is warm. Jane says so to Carla.
 
“Cashmere,” Carla answers matter-of-factly. “Golden Oaks doesn’t skimp, that’s for sure.”
 
There is a knock on the open door. “Hi Jane,” sings Ms Yu, giving Jane a stiff hug.
 
“Hello Ms. Yu,” Jane jumps to her feet.
 
“Please.  Sit.  I just wanted to make sure you’re settling in.” Ms Yu takes a seat on the bench next to Jane. “How’s the morning sickness? Is your room okay? Did you meet Reagan?”
 
“I feel okay, only a little tired,” Jane answers. “The room is beautiful. So are the clothes.” Jane rubs the cashmere on her thigh with her palm, “I have not yet met my roommate.”
 
Ms Yu frowns slightly.
 
“But,” Jane says quickly, not meaning to get her roommate into trouble, “I have only been here since nine o’clock, and I had the check-in with the nurse. I have been busy.”
 
Ms Yu’s face relaxes. She places a hand on Jane’s hand. “I’m guessing Reagan was tied up with an appointment. She’ll be around soon, I’d think. This is your new home, we want to help you feel at home.”
 
At the word “home”, Jane’s throat tightens. It is past eleven, and by now Amalia is likely strapped into her bouncy chair, thighs jiggling from the chair’s battery-powered vibrations, waiting impatiently for Ate to fix lunch. 
 
As if sensing Jane’s thoughts, Ms Yu asks, “How’s Amalia? Was the goodbye hard?”
 
Jane is pierced by gratitude that Ms Yu, who is so busy, remembers Amalia’s name. She shifts her gaze to the wall so that Ms Yu cannot see her eyes, which are teary. “It was fine. Amalia is almost seven months now; she is a big girl. And she has my cousin.”
 
“She’s in good hands, then.” Ms Yu’s voice is kind.
 
Jane still does not trust herself to face Ms Yu. She can hear Carla’s fingers tapping on a keyboard.
 
“I know you know our policy, Jane, which is that we don’t allow visitors, and we don’t allow Hosts offsite unless at the request of a Client.” Ms Yu leans closer to whisper, “But I think we can convince your Client to let Amalia come see you.” 
 
“Really?” Jane blurts, almost exploding with gratitude to Ms Yu.
 
Ms Yu puts a finger to her lips and smiles. She asks Jane if she is ready for lunch and, when Jane confesses she was too nervous this morning to eat, leads her to the dining hall. Jane trails several steps behind, wiggling her toes in her new fur-lined moccasins, a tentative sense of well-being creeping over her. Ms Yu keeps up a constant stream of chatter, pointing out her favorite views of the mountains, giving Jane bits of trivia about the surrounding towns. As they walk, Jane imagines Amalia here—hiding beneath the soft blankets draped on the sofas, mesmerized by the fires crackling in the stone fireplaces.
 
“Do you think you’ll feel at home here?” Ms Yu asks. She pushes the dining room door open with her shoulder.
 
“Oh yes,” says Jane, and she means it.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Farm 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
suekitty13 13 days ago
As a woman there are few things scarier than having control of my body and reproductive rights taken away. This is why The Handmaid’s Tale has resonated for more than 20 years and is just as terrifying to me now as it was when I first read it as a young adult. The Farm has similar overtones although the horror is much less overt. The tension builds so slowly that you almost don’t notice it creeping upon you. Things seem slightly off and it feels a bit ominous but it’s not clear if your unease is warranted or just paranoia. When the true extent of the control and manipulation becomes apparent it is even more poignant and horrible for presenting as harmless and even supportive for so long. It almost feels like a dystopia but could actually be happening right now. This is a story that will linger in my mind for a long, long time. There are so many big issues that are brought up in this book that it would be perfect for book clubs. It would start discussions not just on surrogacy and the definition of motherhood but also on inequality, wealth disparity, privilege, racism, immigration, the autonomy of women’s bodies and so much more. Although the book is told through a small selection of characters and their personal experiences it really is at heart much more of a big picture novel. This was an uncomfortable book but I think it is an important one. With the present political climate chipping away at women’s rights and encouraging racism and inequality The Farm feels especially relevant and timely. Thank you to Random House for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
Cassandre Wilson 6 days ago
I picked this up expecting The Handmaid’s Tale or a spin on one of the many dystopian YA trilogies I’ve read, but this was something different. It disturbed me—and I mean that in a good way—because the world wasn’t some far-in-the-future world that I won’t see in my lifetime…it was exactly the world we live in today. Golden Oaks was not created in order to give people children or give women who are down on their luck amazing employment: It’s strictly a money grab. And that terrifies me. Top it off with the fact that this novel touches heavily on immigration and socioeconomics, two hot-button topics at the moment especially, and it was feeling much too real. It took me longer than usual to get through this, and I think it was because I was waiting for something *dystopian* to happen. Though the characters in this book are incredibly vivid and believable, the plot just trots along with Jane and Co.’s experiences, and while things surely happen to them, I was kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Joanne Ramos is a fabulous writer who can write each character’s perspectives in an individual yet complementary way that I don’t see often, and that is the reason I kept powering through. Mae’s character arc is an interesting one. She is set up as being the antagonist of the story because she’s the one who came up with the program and who does whatever’s in her power to make is succeed—so she can open another site, of course. Near the end, it sort of comes to light that she feels bad for Jane and wants to make up for her wrongdoings by hiring her as her personal surrogate (and maid, really), and I question whether it was the author’s intention to redeem her in the end. Though Jane is treated very well, she, an immigrant, is still in service to Mae and Mae still opens her second location… so I’m not sure she really learned anything. The story ends on a happier note, so I just wish Ramos’s intentions for Mae’s arc were a little more clear. 3.5 STARS https://themodestreader.com/2019/05/03/the-farm
mississippimomreads 7 days ago
The Farm by Joanne Ramos is a debut novel which takes us to a medical spa of sorts for women who are serving as paid and professional surrogates for the wealthiest of the wealthy. The surrogate moms are referred to as Hosts and they are treated with the ideal environment in which to grow a baby…except they are not allowed to communicate with the outside world while they are there – their only job is to grow and nurture the perfect fetus. This glance into a lucrative surrogate facility is supposed to be completely fictional…but It lends itself to the question if such places don’t already exist? The plot is centered around an immigrant surrogate, Jane, who enrolled to be a host because of the large sums of money promised after she delivers a healthy baby, which is a motivator for most hosts in the program – a chance to change their circumstances and future options. However, Jane already has an infant daughter and must bid farewell to her for 9 months while she is enrolled in the program. Jane is eager to serve and she has agreed to fulfill her part of the agreement (under binding legal contracts with bonuses and incentives), but when he maternal instincts kick in on her baby back at home, the plot really deepens and we begin to examine whether or not this maternal wellness spa is such a great idea after all… I enjoyed The Farm, and will definitely give it 4 Stars on Goodreads. I think my local Book Club Moms book club would enjoy this for a future title to discuss. Lots of issues to unpack in this book…the wealthiest 1%, the surrogates looking for a chance to change their station in life, the potential profitability of incubating children for money en masse, and more. Thank you to NetGalley! I received an advanced copy of The Farm in exchange for my honest review. #thefarm #netgalley
ladykaren330 10 days ago
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for the ARC of this book. This in no way Influences my review. This may look like a dystopian novel but it is a modern look at families and motherhood. Joanne Ramos posits a modern facility for Hosts women who are surrogates for the very wealthy, the Clients. Mae Yu is the head of this facility. She is responsible for overseeing the legal, medical and the physical support teams. She also is responsible for obtaining the hosts with the support of people in the community who refer. She meets with each woman who has passed the initial screening to ensure their suitability. The Hosts are paid good money for their services. The pay is based on their characteristics. The host they choose is not only an emblem of the lofty expectations they have for the being implanted inside. So they gravitate toward, and are willing to pay a premium for Hosts whom they find "pretty or "well-spoken" or "kinda or "wise or even educated. Mae is trying to encourage Reagan McCarthy to become a host. She is the "holy trifecta of premium hosts," Caucasian, pretty and educated. She comes from a wealthy family though is dependent on them to pay her expenses. She could use the money to become more independent but she is looking for more from the experience, a sense of purpose, meaning. Jane is from the Philippines. She is a single mother living with her infant daughter in a dormitory where there are 3 sets of bunk beds per room. Her cousin, Evelyn is helping her to make it on her own. It is Evelyn, known as Ate (Tagolog for big sister) who suggests Jane look into becoming a surrogate. As it turns out, Mae is looking for a few more Filipinas. They make great Hosts: their English is good, they have mild personalities they are service-oriented and attractive. Reagan and Jane are roommates at Golden Oaks, often referred to as the Farm. There they have the most nutritious meals, regular ultrasounds fitness classes and any other service that supports the healthy development of the baby. There are conditions though. They must not tell anyone about the facility, their access to the outside world is monitored and they are not allowed visitors unless their Client approves. While surrogacy is currently a valid option for people who cannot have children, this novel introduces it as an exclusive business model which adds it's own ethical issues. It is also an opportunity to explore questions about motherhood, age and independence. As Mae says to her male boss, "If women could outsource their pregnancies they'd be the ones running the world." It also opens up questions about economic worth and equity. Many of the Hosts are immigrant and are not paid the same as white, educated Hosts. How voluntary is the agreement when someone is already economically disadvantaged. Joanne Ramos explores of of this in an engaging story told through the perspectives of Jane, Reagan, Mae and Ate. This would be an ideal book club selection as members take up different points of view.
Anonymous 12 days ago
The farm is a place where women go to be surrogates for wealthy families. They are cared for with organic meals, the best exercise routines, and top notch medical care to protect the high profile babies they carry. Most of the “hosts” are immigrants that have chosen to be a host for the large delivery bonus when they give birth. Jane is no different, except that in order to come to the farm and be a host she had to leave her own baby behind with her cousin. When Jane and her cousin have an argument and her cousin stops answering her calls, Jane has to take matters into her own hands to check on the well being of her own child. 3.5 stars. I enjoyed this book, but something was missing. The story was interesting but I think it was just missing that extra umph to really pull it all together.
Anonymous 12 days ago
Jane is an immigrant who comes to America in her youth, falls in love, has a baby, falls out of love, and tries to move on with her life despite her difficult circumstances. First off, let’s start with how beautiful the name of Jane’s daughter, Amalia, is. I adore pretty sounding names such as that, and enjoy the fact that Amalia is a headstrong and willful child. In the beginning of the story, Jane is living in a sort of boarding house full of other people who have left their home countries to live in America and are full of hope of a brighter future. Instead of finding good money and the “American Dream”, they are cramped to approximately a dozen people per room sleeping on bunk beds and having to climb over one another to get to the door. The living conditions are horrendous. Imagine being Jane with a young baby, trying to be a good mother and care for her child, but also stressed at all times. She needs to work to feed the baby and herself, but also is worried at night that her infant daughter will wake the other people up. Ate, Jane’s elderly cousin, works as a baby nanny for a wealthy couple and at one point cannot work for them for a little while and recommends Jane to them. They readily take Jane on because they trust Ate’s opinion of people. Jane makes good money while working for the wealthy couple, but due to circumstances of life, soon finds herself out of work. Now desperate, Jane considers a job Ate suggests. Applying to this job would take her away from Amalia for nearly a year, but Jane applies anyways in hope that they money will provide for her and her daughter. After rounds of testing, she is accepted into “The Farm” where women work as surrogates for rich people who either cannot or will not carry their own child. While at the farm, Jane encounters people who are completely different, and some that are almost identical to her or her circumstances. On the outside, the facility looks pristine and peaceful, but there is dissatisfaction and discord hidden within. My Thoughts: 3.5 Stars I enjoyed how the author really got me to connect with Jane despite our vastly different backgrounds. Joanne Ramos really got the reader to see just how bad the living conditions can be, and that is not nearly as horrendous as what life is like for those who are not as “fortunate” as Jane. Jane works extremely hard for everything she has. Joanne Ramos shows just how desperate people are to be able to provide for themselves and loved ones, even at the cost of selling their body and carrying someone else’s baby and not seeing their own family for nearly a year. Joanne shows us people who fight for every penny they have, and then also shows us those who are extremely wealthy. The gap in income is sickening and reflects our current economy in a smack-to-the-face kind of way. The flow of the story was good, but it needed a bit more polishing for me. There is quite the gap between the end of the story and the epilogue. It almost feels as if there was more there at one point, but was cut out and left as is. The way it is styled feels rather abrupt before the epilogue, but at least the reader gets to find out what happens to Jane and her loved ones after her time at the farm. Over all, it was a very enjoyable read, and I recommend you pick up a copy and give it a try!
Amanda_Dickens 13 days ago
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for an ARC of this book. After reading the synopsis I thought I was in for a dystopian book about women becoming surrogates on The Farm and then realizing it is actually more sinister, like a twist on The Handmaid's Tale. WRONG! My biggest question is WHY do publishers do this?? Why do you advertise a book as something that it is not? When a synopsis is written, you want to write it in such a way that you will attract reader that will rate you book high and write a glowing review. If you write a misleading or false synopsis it only makes the reader annoyed and you get a lower rating and all you reviews will complain about how it was not what they wanted to read. I wanted that dystopian book! That twist of The Handmaid's Tale. The main character doesn't even go to the farm until well into the book. None of this is dystopian. Surrogates are already a thing. They are already paid to carry a persons child. They are already given special restrictions from the biological parents. This is not dystopian. I was so distracted by the fact that what I was reading was not at all what I expected that I was not emotionally invested in any of the characters. I kept waiting for something to happen that would make it a dystopian. It never happened
RobinLovesReading 13 days ago
Would you be willing to give up your life for a few seasons? A relationship, family, education? What if you could spend up to nine months at a gorgeous locale with all of your needs cared for by a devoted team? Well, some women make this very decision to become Hosts for those who need surrogates. They become temporary guests at The Farm, called Golden Oaks. Mostly immigrant women are involved here and have very little choice when it comes to this difficult decision. Among these women we meet Jane. She was a struggling single mother with an excellent job as a baby nurse. Due to extreme circumstances, Jane is forced to find other employment because of an unfortunate event at her most recent job, With another baby nurse, her cousin Ate, to help care for her young daughter, Jane becomes pregnant as part of her new employment. An incentivized Host. Carrying a baby for wealthy Clients. Strict rules enforce secrecy. The Hosts only job is to follow a course set in front of them that will allow them to carry to term in the safest, healthiest way possible. Whether or not the money for acting as a Host is worth it compares to the emotional toll placed upon these young women. Will the emotional attachment these women cope with be enough of a trade off to have many women, from several other walks of life, be something that becomes a secure part of the future? The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of Mae, another powerful character as it was she who designed the surrogacy program. As mentioned, most of the women who become Hosts are immigrants, so race and financial inequality are explored. Truly makes one think. As a mother, I don’t think I could give up my child no matter the financial gain. I appreciated The Farm very much. I liked it and I disliked it, but I am most certainly glad to have read it. That is why this difficult book rates five stars. It is by far, completely unlike most of what I read. Kind of made me think a bit of The Handmade’s Tale. This book provides a provocative look into a future when you can simply place an ad for things such as having babies simply for financial gain. The Farm explores racial inequality in a different world. This book further touches on the difficult things forced upon these women. Their freedom is definitely stifled. Again, is it all worth it? A bit futuristic. A bit science fiction. A bit horror (it would be spoilery to say why). Joanne Ramos has truly hit it out of the park. This debut novel is something that will remain with me for a long time. Many thanks to NetGalley (although I noticed this book via Shelf Awareness Pro) and to Random House for this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. *As this book is slated for release May 7, 2019, I will publish this on my blog on or after April 15, 2019.
bookluvr35SL 13 days ago
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is a young mom, who has left her cheating husband and is staying in a dormitory full of other immigrants. Her cousin, Ate, is a baby nurse and after one disastrous attempt at Jane being one as well, she tells Jane about an opportunity that sounds too good to be true. Hiding away in New York’s Hudson Valley is a "luxury retreat" where you get daily massages, personal fitness trainers, delicious healthy meals, and much more. The catch.... you must sign a contract agreeing to be a surrogate (or Host as they call it) for a wealthy family, you may not leave there for the next 9 months, no visits from friends or family, and your every move is monitored.. in exchange, besides living in luxury and being pampered for the entire pregnancy, you are paid an exorbitant sum of money.... enough that it would make a huge difference in Jane's life and the life she can give her daughter Amalia. This book was really good. The storyline was reminiscent of "The Circle" in the way their every move was monitored. The book was a little slow taking off, and for several chapters I was confused because the story was nothing like the blurb about the book. But once the backstory meshed into the current story it made sense and from then on I was entranced. I went from intrigued and happy to enraged on the Hosts' behalf and disgusted with all the deception going on. Then the book abruptly stopped and the epilogue was 3 years later. I ended the book feeling dissatisfied with the ending, and like there was more story that should have been told. Overall, it was a very good book and I urge you to check it out.
lee2staes 13 days ago
I totally enjoyed this novel. Its about women and their trials and tribulations in a surrogacy facility called the farm for the very wealthy. It hits on lots of relevant topics and is full of racial and economic inequity. One character is a Filipino woman who is always hustling to make a life for her kids living back home who she hasn’t seen for decades. She winds up at the farm where she meets others who experience surrogacy in a way much different from her. It’s a good read. I will recommend it to my friends. My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 13 days ago
The concept was SO interesting - kudos to the author for that. I had high hopes for this novel and I wasn't disappointed. The author’s writing style was wonderful and really pulled me in. The dialogue was easy to follow and the subject matter was interesting and very serious. Women deal with body image and infertility issues all the time. The Farm is a brilliant novel, working on multiple levels, personally, politically, and everything in between. Joanne Ramos is one of those original writers whose sharp wit, insight and artistry is boiled down to such amazing lines that I was riveted throughout. How often do we get to read about women who are lively, nuanced, relatable and tough? There is much to like and talk about in this thought-provoking novel, but quite a few cringe-worthy moments too. As a woman, I was terrified, I was angry, and I was caught up in this story like a deer in the headlights. I absolutely cannot fathom being in any of their shoes. But what if? I could babble on about this book for hours, but I’d spoil the whole thing for you. I know this won’t be a book for everyone, and it’s not an easy read, but if you’re even the slightest bit intrigued by the synopsis, I say go for it. A gorgeous, compelling read---highly recommend!
Renwarsreads 13 days ago
This book was different from any story I've read before. It grabbed me right from the beginning and I just wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. The characters are all from very different backgrounds but it was easy to connect and understand each of their stories and feelings. It almost had the feel of a futuristic story at some points and it makes you wonder if something like this could be happening now or sometime in the future. A kind of scary thought!
Alfoster 13 days ago
Golden Oaks--a beautiful "farm" where Clients and Hosts come together to expand families. Is it a blessing for the women who consent to be surrogates for the wealthy, or is it a nightmare where their every move is monitored and secrets are kept? Ramos deftly explores these issues as we meet Jane, Reagan, and Lisa, three Hosts who have been guaranteed a lovely environment and medical care for the nine months they are pregnant, before turning the infant over to the Client whose embryo they carry. But is everything above board or are there secrets lurking behind the master plan for Golden Oaks. This is a tender and moving story that examines motherhood, friendships, immigration, and the disparity between wealth and poverty. It is sure to make you think and will warm your heart as well! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Anonymous 13 days ago
What could possibly go wrong when young women are impregnated and their freedoms are limited all to make money? Hang on as you take a journey through the dark side of surrogacy. While it may seem like the perfect way to escape poverty and dire circumstances. T participants will soon discover everything is not as promised . When Jane arrives at Golden Oaks it is with a mixture of anxiety and hope. Anxiety about what the future holds, but hope this decision will improve her life. The story is told from the perspective of the hosts and people running the facility. This allows the reader to empathize with the different characters , even unlikable ones. A unique and interesting plot that keeps the reader entertained and engaged.
PageWitch 13 days ago
The Farm took a lot of time to unpack and digest. It wasn't at all what I expected. I thought it would be horrifying, and it was, but in a much more subtle way. I expected manipulation and force, a place with a dark underbelly that would be slowly revealed. But the terrifying part about The Farm was that the people in power truly believed they were doing the right thing. The sneaky lies and mistruths, the contracts and control, all of it was deemed to be for the good of the Host and the fetus they carried. As we follow two Hosts, Jane (a Filipina working to provide a better future for her daughter) and Reagan, (a white girl with a savior complex) we subtly see the disparities in their treatment. Where Jane is punished, Reagan receives explanations and consolations. Jane often takes the brunt of the blame in various incidents and is controlled in a much more ominous way than the others. At the Farm, the white, educated women are referred to as Premium Hosts and are afforded more benefits, higher pay, and, in general, more leniency. I think this book was less a dystopian and more of a thoughtful examination of class and privilege. I do wish the book had focused more on some of the other Hosts and, while Mae's perspective provided valuable insights, it tended to give away plot points that may have been better experienced through Jane or Reagan's POV. Ate's chapters also felt very unnecessary. I appreciated learning of her struggles but it didn't aid in connecting me with Jane and I think the space might have been better utilized in exploring another host. Overall, The Farm was a very interesting, well-written book. Those that want a book that makes them think will probably enjoy it but if you're just looking for a dystopian it might be best to give this one a pass.
Bookwormish-Me 13 days ago
In a world where just about everything is for sale, would you carry a baby if you could afford to have someone carry it for you? The Farm is a lovely estate where young women act as surrogates for wealthy clients. Clients that either cannot or choose not to bear their own children. It is almost dystopian in its approach to surrogacy, but considering I know so little about surrogacy, it wouldn’t surprise me to know places such as this exist. Golden Oaks is a beautiful estate in New York that exists solely as an incubator for babies. IVF babies that are carried by “hosts”, young women specifically selected by Mae, the Farm’s master, based on selective criteria. Most come from impoverished backgrounds, but there are VIP hosts. These VIP hosts come from better quality backgrounds and higher level educations and cost more if you choose one of them to carry your fetus. Golden Oaks looks really pretty from the outside, just as the cashmere loungewear the hosts are given upon arrival. However, dark secrets and practices lurk at The Farm. In the novel, we meet Jane, a young Filipino woman who is estranged from her husband and living in a dorm in New York City. Jane has a daughter from this husband, and works in a retirement home to support herself. Her cousin, Ate, is a well known and well respected baby nurse in New York City. Ate gets Jane a job as a baby nurse to try to help her make more money. When Jane is fired from that job, Ate suggests Golden Oaks as an option. Reagan comes from a wealthy family and is a college graduate. Reagan chooses Golden Oaks as a way to get out from under her father’s thumb and wallet. She’s considered a VIP due to her genetics, background, and education. The story follows Jane and Reagan through the nine months that they carry these babies. As different as these two could be, they are thrown together as roommates. Neither has any idea whose baby they are carrying, but there are rumors of a billionaire baby whose host will get a huge bonus upon successful delivery. Speculation is that it might be Jane or Reagan based on when they conceived. Golden Oaks is a fantasy prenatal center as long as you follow the rules. But no one can follow all the rules all the time. Can they? Not only is the subject matter interesting, but the two female hosts, as well as other prominent characters in the book, are fascinating. How they ended up at Golden Oaks, what their experiences will be, how they’ll feel when it comes time to give birth and give up these golden children. It is both a unique and fascinating story. For me, it was a “can’t put down experience” into a world I’d never imagined existed. Definitely gets high marks from me and would be a book I would likely recommend to friends. Review originally posted at BookwormishMe.com
Anonymous 13 days ago
Through the perspectives of four very different women, Ramos explores society’s views on class, race, the immigrant experience, and the choices women must make for their families. From the premise, readers may expect a dystopian thriller like The Handmaid’s Tale, but that’s not what this is. It’s a thought-provoking and addictive literary fiction read. Chapters alternate between Jane, her older cousin Ate, a young white Host named Reagan, and the Golden Oaks coordinator, Mae. As a Filipino-American I could relate to and empathize with all of the characters, but I can see how that may be difficult for some, or how the alternating chapters might disrupt the flow of the story. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning, and I think the climax could have begun a bit earlier in the book to add more tension. But overall, an intriguing and provocative debut novel from Joanne Ramos. Thanks to Random House for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
CRSK 13 days ago
2.5 ‘Meh’ Stars A bit predictable, one-dimensional, the only thing that wasn’t flat for me is the image on the cover. The ending is oddly disconnected to the rest of the book, as though there’s an entire thought process or some key information missing. That being said, I do think that this will likely be commercially successful because it seems to promise so much more. If you’re thinking this is some sci-fi or dystopian story, it’s not. If you’re thinking of reading this with some idea that this is about women or couples or gay couples so desperate to have a baby or babies that they hire a surrogate to do the physical labor for them, that’s closer to the truth, but even there I felt the story fell flat, and felt untrue. If you’re thinking it’s about poor women, perhaps especially immigrants, who choose to carry another’s child through gestation for financial rewards, it is – but it’s more about those who prey on those weak enough, desperate enough, or whose upper-class privileged background has them wanting to give back in some way. The Farm, called Golden Oaks, transports these women into a comfortable dorm-like setting, where they are then monitored, what they eat, where they go, who they talk to, etc. for the duration of their pregnancy. For some, this is a step up, in terms of setting, but they all seem to have issues with the level of monitoring for one reason or another. The message of this novel seems to be summed up in one sentence: ”Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.” I kept reading thinking this would have more redeeming value at some point, and when I finished reading it I realized I was wrong. The writing is good enough, without being poignant or beautifully written. The epilogue seemed pointless and I was confused why it was even included since it seemed to detract some from the main story and added nothing to it for me. Surrogacy is an ancient practice that has evolved since Sarai directed Abraham to go to her maid that she might bear his child through her, but this story seemed to wander in the desert for too long, leaving me thirsting for more. Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group – Random House
Ms-Hurst 13 days ago
The Farm grows humans. More succinctly, it houses surrogate mothers until they give birth. While surrogacy can be a noble thing to do, here it is a business. The novel walks the line between body autonomy and body control. The reader jumps around between many women and their point of view. We try to understand the motives for everyone involved, including Ms. Yu who is running the show. Most of the women are doing it for the money and have few options. Some have options that they find unacceptable. Reagan and Jane are on opposite sides of this as "Hosts" or surrogates. The entire time I was reading I was weighing their reasons while knowing that in reality I have no right to do so. A very timely book.
LawladyCase 13 days ago
A place where babies can be made to order; Hosts kept well feed, exercised and anything else necessary to make the perfect baby; and the rich mamas control all that their Host experience. What could possibly go wrong? Joanne Ramos writes an entertaining, yet intellectual story about a baby farm. Since we have discovered how things can be genetically engineered, why not babies? This book is intriguing and thought provoking. Would you be a surrogate for a rich person/couple? Would you need to know why they didn’t have their own child – infertility, inconvenience, health? Would it matter? What if you were cut off from the outside would for 8 months, your life put on hold? How much money would make it worth it? Is any amount enough? This book also examines social status. The Clients are uber rich while the majority of the Hosts are from third world countries and extremely poor. A few Hosts are middle class which confuses the Hosts. The business just keeps getting richer and richer. I enjoyed the storyline. The book was written in a comfortable voice from several VOPs. It certainly lends credibility to the notion of a baby farm when you can see the innerworkings from several different racial/social class people. There are twists, turns and surprises that will keep you reading long into the night. The only part that was a bit off-putting was the political vitriol, but it was infrequent enough to barely warrant a mention. I received an ARC from Random House Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is no way affects my opinion or rating of this book.
Karen_Benson 13 days ago
If sleep and work wouldn't have interfered with my reading time, I think I would have read The Farm in one sitting. I had such a hard time putting this one down! Although it's a little reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale, insofar as young viable women have babies for the very rich, the premise of the book could (and probably is) taking place somewhere in the world right now, in some form. The Farm is all about the money! The women who are hired treat The Farm as a well paid job. For the ones who run The Farm, it's all about the bottom line. I found this idea fascinating and can easily see this actually happening, if not now, then soon. The book is written from the POVs of 4 women. Mae, the woman who recruits the Hosts and the Clients and who runs The Farm; Jane, a Host who is a Filipino young woman with an infant daughter who needs the job to support her child; Ate, Jane's elderly cousin, who helped Jane to apply for the job and watches her daughter for her; and Reagan, another Host, who is a highly educated white woman who is trying to find her purpose in life. I was intrigued about this story from the minute I read the synopsis and it was even better than I expected! *Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for an advanced copy of The Farm!*