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

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Scribner, Sep 16, 2014 - Family & Relationships - 976 pages
In this book the author tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so. His 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 he 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 40,000 pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, the author 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, he 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 the author's journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent. In this book he explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance, all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice; and expands our definition of what it is to be human.

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User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

A book mostly about what it’s like for parents and children who are very different from each other, though there’s a bit about deaf of deaf people and how their experiences are distinct from deaf of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DonnaMarieMerritt - LibraryThing

Meticulously researched (in fact, there are over 100 pages of Notes at the end and a Bibliography of almost 100 pages). This book opened my eyes. I thought I was an accepting, nonjudgemental person ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Andrew Solomon is a professor of psychology at Columbia University, president of PEN American Center, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, NPR, and The New York Times Magazine. A lecturer and activist, he is the author of Far and Away: Essays from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years; the National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, which has won thirty additional national awards; and The Noonday Demon; An Atlas of Depression, which won the 2001 National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has been published in twenty-four languages. He has also written a novel, A Stone Boat, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award and The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost. His TED talks have been viewed over ten million times. He lives in New York and London and is a dual national. For more information, visit the author’s website at AndrewSolomon.com.

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