Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Books for a Better Life Award, and one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2012, this masterpiece by the National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon features stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so—“a brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity” (People).
Solomon’s startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or 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, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.
All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, Far from the Tree explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other—a theme in every family’s life.
"Deeply moving..."--Lisa Zeidner "The Washington Post " "A careful, subtle, and surprising book."--Nathan Heller "The New Yorker " "It's a book everyone should read and there's no one who wouldn't be a more imaginative and understanding parent--or human being--for having done so."--Julie Myerson "The New York Times Book Review " "Solomon is a storyteller of great intimacy and ease...He approaches each family's story thoughtfully, respectfully...Bringing together their voices, Solomon creates something of enduring warmth and beauty: a quilt, a choir."--Kate Tuttle "The Boston Globe " "A brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity."--Anne Leslie "PEOPLE " "A book of extraordinary ambition...Part journalist, part psychology researcher, part sympathetic listener, Solomon's true talent is a geographic one: he maps the strange terrain of the human struggle that is parenting."--Brook Wilensky-Lanford "The San Francisco Cronicle " "Monumental...Solomon has an extraordinary gift for finding his way into the relatively hermetic communities that form around conditions...and gaining the confidence of the natives."--Lev Grossman "TIME " "A behemoth worth every one of its 976 pages."--Amy Boaz "Publishers Weekly " "[These] stories are entirely unpredictable and offer us the full range of human experience--not only the horror but also the astonishing beauty--and in the end a Shakespearean sense that we are such stuff as dreams are made of."--Judith Newman "More " "Far-reaching, original, fascinating--Andrew Solomon's investigation of many of the most intense challenges that parenthood can bring compels us all to reexamine 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, author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families "A book to admire, learn from, and cherish."--Sue Ransohoff "The Christian Science Monitor " "A brilliant and humane examination of family and resilience and humility and confusion and loyalty and difference and love...I want everyone to read it."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray, Love and Committed "A marvel of precision, lucidity and, despite its 962 pages, concision...This book will change your view of your own species."--Tanguy Chouard "Nature " "The most amazing book I've ever read..."--Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and Sisterland "This is one of the most extraordinary books I have read in recent times--brave, compassionate and astonishingly humane. Solomon approaches one of the oldest questions--how much are we defined by nature versus nurture?--and crafts from it a gripping narrative. Through his stories, told with such masterful delicacy and lucidity, we learn how different we all are, and how achingly similar. I could not put this book down."--Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies "Solomon's first chapter, entitled 'Son, ' is as masterly a piece of writing as I've come across all year. It combines his own story with a taut and elegant prï¿½cis of this book's arguments. It is required reading...This is a book that shoots arrow after arrow into your heart."--Dwight Garner "The New York Times " "Far from the Tree is a landmark, revolutionary book. It frames an area of inquiry--difference between parents and children--that many of us have experienced in our own lives without ever considering it as a phenomenon. Andrew Solomon plumbs his topic thoroughly, humanely, and in a compulsively readable style that makes the book as entertaining as it is illuminating."--Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad "Andrew Solomon has written 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, author of Blink and The Tipping Point "Solomon, a highly original student of human behavior, has written an intellectual history that lays the foundation for a 21st century Psychological Bill of Rights. In addition to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on the basis of race and religion, this Bill extends inalienable rights of psychological acceptance to people on the basis of their identity. He provides us with an unrivalled educational experience about identity groups in our society, an experience that is filled with insight, empathy and intelligence. We also discover the redefining, self-restructuring nature that caring for a child produces in parents, no matter how unusual or disabled the child is. Reading Far from the Tree is a mind-opening experience."--Eric Kandel, author of The Age of Insight and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "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 "Far from the Tree is fundamentally about the bonds and burdens of family, and it's a huge valentine to those who embrace the challenge of raising children who are in some way not what they had hoped for."--Virginia Vitzthum "ELLE " "Masterfully written and brilliantly researched...Far from the Tree stands apart from the countless memoirs and manuals about special needs parenting published in the last couple of decades."--Tina Calabro "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette " "[Far from the Tree] is a masterpiece of non-fiction, the culmination of a decade's worth of research and writing, and it should be required reading for psychologists, teachers, and above all, parents...A bold and unambiguous call to redefine how we view difference...A stunning work of scholarship and compassion."--Carmela Ciuraru "USA Today "