Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for IdentityFar from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some books keep coming around until you give them what they want: your full attention. A dear friend gave this to me several years ago for Christmas and I read the first couple of pages over and over but couldn’t get much further. The first page says this: “Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger.”

That was enough for me to mull over for a long time. When I came back to the book this fall and flipped through it, that first statement no longer rang like a bell; I’d been living in its resonance for years. I could finally absorb more of the book.

That first sentence that hit me went on, and I understood the rest of it now: “Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger, and the more alien the stranger, the stronger the whiff of negativity… Loving our own children is an exercise for the imagination.”

It wasn’t until I finished the book, whose chapters I read out of order and sometimes skimmed, that I understood the meaning of the title, which of course was explained in the first several pages while my head was still spinning over the “permanent relationship with a stranger.” These stories are about kids (apples) who fell far from the tree (their parents).

Sometimes I am embarrassingly slow on the uptake. Oh well.

As the parent of kids who fit that description, this book is a balm. The cover blurb from PEOPLE says that it is a “brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity”; I agree.

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