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Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
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Far From the Tree (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Andrew Solomon

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7592512,224 (4.43)43
Member:cmartlib
Title:Far From the Tree
Authors:Andrew Solomon
Info:Scribner (2012), Kindle Edition, 702 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:social psychology, abnormal psychology

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Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (2012)

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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
So far, finding it fascinating, especially the section on parents of criminal children. For such parents, there is only blame and not the perhaps falsely cheerful but nonetheless non-judgmental support organizations for, say, deaf children. (Not saying there aren't controversies with parenting deaf children, especially by hearing parents. Much about this discussed in Solomon's books.)

While watching the coverage of the younger Tsarnaev's capture, couldn't help but think of the utter isolation of parents whose children commit horrendous crimes, such as the Klebolds. ( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
Brilliant insight into different forms of parenting. Confronting and challenging a must read. ( )
1 vote phenske | Dec 8, 2015 |
In a unique mix of nonfiction writing, Solomon presents a stunning take on family and our attitude about children. If you were to only read one chapter of this book, the first chapter alone will change the way you think about parenting. But not only does he present massive quantities of research, he does it with such a personal touch that the work is easily digestible, completely authentic, and has changed my life. ( )
  sungene | Dec 2, 2015 |
Wonderfully written, well researched! ( )
  AR_bookbird | Nov 20, 2015 |
This book examines the difficulties and rewards for parents in identifying with children perceived as different from themselves. And does much more. Just as an example, there’s a section on medically deaf people who find a horizontal identity in the Deaf community, rather than a vertical identity via their hearing parents. This section also includes careful examinations of the arguments for and against cochlear implants, for and against Deaf people choosing to have Deaf children. Andrew Solomon ends on a positive note, focusing on the growing acceptance of difference and diversity. I want to be that optimistic. Yet there are some unforgettable horror stories in these pages too. Overall, it’s rare and pleasurable to have found a non-fiction book that’s as satisfying and nuanced as the best fiction. ( )
  Bernadette877 | Jun 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
In Far from the Tree, he [Andrew Solomon] explores the experience of parents having offspring who in one way or another present them with an unexpected set of problems--either neuropsychological impairments from birth or behavioral problems as they grow. This theme drew Mr. Solomon's attention because he is ever aware of how his emergent homosexuality during adolescence represented a serious challenge to his parents--a challenge that he believes they didn't handle well. . . . He explicitly relates their [the parents he interviews] responses to what he remembers his parents doing and saying to him when they became aware of his homosexual predilections. This feature gives the book both a personal edge and a less than subtle political subtext. In the end, Far From the Tree is an exercise in identity politics. . . . Despite offering touching stories of parents who face challenges they didn't expect--and deal with them nobly--Far From the Tree ignores, to its detriment, some of the most natural and telling aspects of human beings as they relate to each other across the generations.
added by sgump | editWall Street Journal, Paul McHugh (Dec 18, 2012)
 
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. "Far From the Tree" is the product of a decade of research and interviews with 300 families. For each horizontal identity under discussion, Solomon moves easily from often-harrowing individual stories, told largely in the subjects' own words, to broader observations informed by his theoretical research, and arrives at a surprising level of synthesis.
 
Narrating the stories of hundreds of families in which children and their parents must struggle with identity — whether due to disability or difference of other kinds — Solomon’s project boils down to this: with stories come understanding, empathy, and respect.
added by melmore | editBoston Globe, Kate Tuttle (Nov 23, 2012)
 
“Far From the Tree” doesn’t purport to be an original work of theoretical research on family dynamics. It’s more of a hybrid series of thematically linked oral histories, the majority of which are deeply moving about the strength of parents who display heroic energy and creativity.
added by melmore | editWashington Post, Lisa Zeidner (Nov 21, 2012)
 
...suffice it to say that you end this journey through difference and diversity with an even stronger conviction that life is endlessly, heart-stoppingly, fragile and unknowable.

And yet. Spending time with the parents of a child so disabled he has to be lifted from his bed with a pulley, Solomon notes that to be in the room with them and their son “is to witness a shimmering humanity.” It’s a phrase that should be smoke-trailed across the sky, or at the very least stuck on the family fridge. It’s also a very accurate description of what he’s achieved in this wise and beautiful book.
 
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Epigraph
The imperfect is our paradise. /
Note that, in this bitterness, delight, /
Since the imperfect is so hot in us, /
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.
--Wallace Stevens, "The Poem of Our Climate"
Dedication
for John, for the sake of whose difference I would gladly give up all the sameness in the world
First words
There is no such thing as reproduction.
Quotations
Having exceptional children exaggerates parental tendencies: those who would be bad parents become awful parents, but those who would be good parents become extraordinary.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743236718, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: Anyone who’s ever said (or heard or thought) the adage “chip off the old block” might burrow into Andrew Solomon’s tome about the ways in which children are different from their parents--and what such differences do to our conventional ideas about family. Ruminative, personal, and reportorial all at once, Solomon--who won a National Book Award for his treatise on depression, The Noonday Demon--begins by describing his own experience as the gay son of heterosexual parents, then goes on to investigate the worlds of deaf children of hearing parents, dwarves born into “normal” families, and so on. His observations and conclusions are complex and not easily summarized, with one exception: The chapter on children of law-abiding parents who become criminals. Solomon rightly points out that this is a very different situation indeed: “to be or produce a schizophrenic...is generally deemed a misfortune,” he writes. “To...produce a criminal is often deemed a failure.” Still, parents must cope with or not, accept or not, the deeds or behaviors or syndromes of their offspring. How they do or do not do that makes for fascinating and disturbing reading. --Sara Nelson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:45 -0400)

Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

(summary from another edition)

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