Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity is the autobiography by National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee Andrew Solomon.
A lucid and truly creative mind, Solomon's path started with his experiences of being gay in a straight family. He didn't know how other parents could provide for their kids who have a number of marks that make them different: a family of deaf kids, dwarves, Down-syndrome, autistic, schizophrenic, and other severely disabled, those who are a prodigy, who commit a crime, and who are transgender too. This begins with his experience as a son, and ends with his journey as a dad, but throughout it tries to unravel how despite our differences, we aren't so unlike our parents, or others half way across the globe.
Many find this book remarkably brave in the questions it asks and in the answers it hopes to uncover.
Divided into twelve poignant sections, Solomon relates the stories of people who are victimized in tragic ways because of the world's prejudices, but he also tells the readers about the families who surround their kids with love despite those differences and who try to alter the world-view of being different with difficult circumstances. He eloquently, humbly, and lovingly speaks for the folks who have no voice in this world. This moving angle that he shows us about a serious social issue provides a conclusion that can stretch to any family or cultural view and will help academics and politicians as well as the commoner to address the issue of illness and self-identity.
Solomon, born in 1963, writes on numerous socio-political-cultural issues.
From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An
Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing,
about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of
parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also
find profound meaning in doing so.
Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us
all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome,
autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are
prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are
transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the
experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of
love Solomon documents in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents
should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should
help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of
interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the
eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering
prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or
gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a
universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring
for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others
similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists,
celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous
and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which
culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a
by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes
of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love
can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our
definition of what it is to be human.
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