Sometimes your child – the most familiar person of all – is radically different from you. The saying goes that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But what happens when it does?
In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon reminds us that nothing is more powerful in a child's development than the love of a parent. This remarkable new book introduces us to mothers and fathers across America –many in circumstances the rest of us can hardly imagine–who are making their children feel special, no matter what challenges come their way.
President Bill Clinton
‘Andrew Solomon's investigation of many of the most intense challenges that parenthood can bring compels us all to re-examine how we understand human difference. Perhaps the greatest gift of this monumental book, full of facts and full of feelings, is that it constantly makes one think, and think again.' Philip Gourevitch
In this seminal new study of family, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who learn to deal with their exceptional children and find profound meaning in doing so.
He introduces us to families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, Solomon documents repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.
‘Reading Far from the Tree is a mind-opening experience.' Eric Kandel
Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices, whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery.
Parents and children are challenged to their limits, but often grow closer as a result; many discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become activists, celebrating the conditions they once feared.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far From The Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows how love for one's children can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.
‘A brave and ambitious work, bringing together science, culture and a powerful empathy. Solomon tells us that we have more in common with each other – even with those who seem anything but normal – than we would ever have imagined.' Malcolm Gladwell
About the Author
Andrew Solomon is a writer and activist working on politics, culture and psychology. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, Newsweek, and The Guardian. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell University and Special Adviser on LGBT Affairs to Yale University's Department of Psychiatry. The Noonday Demon won the 2001 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. His highly-acclaimed study of family, Far from the Tree won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Non-fiction, the Lukas Book Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, among others. He lives with his husband and son in New York and London.
"The tales Solomon returns with, of profound disability and extreme differences overcome, make it a bible of empathy and inclusion" -- Cressida Connolly * Spectator *
"Andrew Solomon's Far From The Tree is a prodigious, illuminating book about the challenge of being a parent - especially when children are out of the ordinary" -- Tim Adams * Observer *
"Life-affirming, thought provoking and highly readable, the book was compiled over 10 years of interviews and I found it deeply moving" -- Kate Kellaway * Observer *
"Many accounts are desperately moving, but Solomon goes far beyond cheap pity... The book is an exquisite written study of parental love - as well as "a how-to manual for receptivity"" -- Kerry Hudson * Herald *
"[A] magnificent study of disability and identity differences" -- Susannah Meadows * New York Times *
"This wise book is a careful and surprising study of difference between parent and child and how it shapes our lives" -- Stephen Grosz * Sunday Telegraph *
"For anyone struggling with decisions over parenting, it's an affirming reminder that there is no such thing as "normal"" -- Femke Colborne * Big Issue in the North *
"Parents - especially mothers - are the heroes of this book, many of them describing with extraordinary absence of self-pity how they have coped with almost unimaginable adversity" -- Dominic Lawson * Sunday Times *
"Solomon really makes you think... Uniquely brilliant" -- William Leith * Evening Standard *
"Beautiful" * The Times *