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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Adoption Novel Raw and Honest

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After 16-year-old Grace places her baby for adoption, she feels adrift.  Grief-stricken and looking for answers, she feels compelled to search for her own birth mother.  Adopted at birth, Grace never knew the woman who gave her life—she'd like to find her, ask her questions, and maybe gain some vital understanding of her own situation.  What Grace finds is two half-siblings, Maya and Joaquin, both of whom live shockingly close to her.  She reaches out to them, curious to find commonality with these two strangers.  Surely, they will want to find their bio mom as much as she does; the three of them can work on the project together.

As desperate as Grace is to connect with Maya and Joaquin, she's surprised when things don't turn out quite as she planned.  Maya is a wealthy, spoiled brat who's never felt a part of her adoptive family.  With her parents fighting constantly and her mother drinking too much, her world is falling apart.  She doesn't really care about finding their bio mom, but she's up for anything that will get her out of her oppressive house.  Joaquin, on the other hand, is adamant that he wants nothing to do with the mother who abandoned him.  After spending most of his life in foster care, he trusts no one, not even his current foster family who want to adopt him.  Shy and awkward, he doesn't even seem that keen on hanging out with his newly-discovered sisters.  

Even though Grace's half-siblings aren't quite what she expected, she still wants answers.  With their reluctant help, she will find them.  She'll also discover some enlightening truths that will change her perspective on family and on her own future.

Ever since I adopted my youngest child nine years ago, I've been drawn to books on the topic of adoption.  The premise behind Robin Benway's newest, Far From the Tree, especially intrigued me since my daughter has a number of half-siblings out in the world.  The idea of her meeting them someday appeals—I wonder what they might have in common and how they might differ.  So, of course, I had to pick up this book to see what happened to Grace.  What I got was a raw, honest story that's both tender and touching.  It's more graphic than I was expecting and, truthfully, I didn't feel a huge connection to any of the characters.  They all seem unrealistically world-weary.  Still, Far From the Tree is a well-written, thought-provoking novel that offers important insight into teen pregnancy, adoption, and the reality of families that are not perfect but nevertheless important.  I didn't end up loving Far From the Tree like I wanted to, but I did enjoy it overall.

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual innuendo, and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I liked this book more than you did. I was pulled into their lives and wanted them all to bond and love and feel better.

    1. I liked the realistic portrayal of family. In spite of the blood or bond you share, families are never perfect!

  2. I think I've told you that I'm adopted and my brother and sister were as well. Being such a long time ago, adoption rules were different and there were very few 'open' adoptions. Honestly, I've never felt the pull to find my birth people, though they would likely all be gone at this point. My sister, on the other hand, was pretty sure that her 'real' (as she would term it at times) family would be better. I'm pretty sure they would not have been, but my little sis had some real trouble in her life. Happily, she and my mother resolved issues before my Mom passed away and now my sister is gone too. Sigh. I'm drawn to adoption books too, like I'm drawn to books about people with dementia. It's complicated isn't it? :-)

    1. Adoption is certainly a complicated thing. I know people who have no interest in finding their birth people, others who can't rest until they do, and still others who are somewhere in the middle. I don't know how my daughter will feel about it when she gets older -- if she wants to find her birth mother and half-siblings, I'm all for it. I think it's important to be realistic about it, though -- just because you share blood doesn't mean you'll bond instantly or have anything in common. If I ever see my daughter's bio mom again, I will definitely thank her for the privilege of raising our girl -- it's been an incredible experience :)

  3. I like stories like this but do find teens acting too adult slightly unbelievable.

  4. Glad you enjoyed this even if you didn't love it. I thought it was interesting and emotional. Great review!


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