The depth and scope of Far From the Tree is both overwhelming and so fascinating and immersive, I didn't want it to end... and this, for a 976 page boThe depth and scope of Far From the Tree is both overwhelming and so fascinating and immersive, I didn't want it to end... and this, for a 976 page book!
Solomon dives into the lives of parents who have children who are on a vertical existence (to the parents' horizontal society-proclaimed-"normal" existence). Children who are in some way - or within multiple facets - different. Each section covers a different condition: Deaf, Dwarfs, Down Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, Disability, Prodigies, Rape, Crime, Transgender.
From a 1000 page book, one would expect Solomon to be in depth. He is: quite. He not only covers the discomfort and differing boundaries these conditions have the potential cause between parents and their children, but then expands to those differences between the family units and their communities and/or society in general. Where applicable, he illustrates the current abilities of the medical world (as of 2012, when the book was published - in likely all of these categories, things have already changed in the last three years). He discusses how many of these children find their comfort and identities in communities outside of their families (such as in deaf culture or difficult teenagers finding friends and support in violent gangs). Parents often find it a relief that their children find support they are unable to innately to provide but at other times, this can be confusing and frustrating, as they feel like they've "lost" their child to another family. Still other children seek out these alternate families because their parents simply do not want to connect with them and refuse to even attempt.
The most impressive and engaging element of Far From the Tree was, for me, the multitude of families and individuals Solomon interviewed, researched, studied, and followed for years to compose the structure of the book. I often see reviews for non-fiction like this where the reader complains about the repeated examples provided by the author. I don't understand these complaints because I find all of the stories interesting and informative. Solomon helps the volume of stories become more distinct by taking the opportunities to choose particular elements from each family situation to explain or illuminate things like medical advances or social problems in the greater community.
Although he bookends the greater whole with his own story about growing up a gay man with straight parents and then subsequently writing of his own marriage and becoming a father, Solomon maintains a mostly-unbiased stance throughout most of the narrative, explaining the differing camps on each side of an issue in depth and with precision. When he does break in to proclaim what he thinks about something, the reader gets the impression that he does so because his opinion is so strong (and since I conveniently agree with him on most of the points, it's easy to nod in empathy rather than sensing these interjections as an intrusion).
Because of the length of this book (longer, I'd like to point out, than the first Game of Thrones novel), I chose to listen to it on audiobook. Solomon narrates the book himself, which was an excellent choice. One can hear the empathy in his voice and I felt the reading - smooth and comforting - bolstered the experience of an often-difficult and long book.
Wonderful and deeply empathetically educational....more
Because if they are I want to read all the apocalyptic novels right now.
I assume that they're not because,Are all apocalyptic novels this incredible?
Because if they are I want to read all the apocalyptic novels right now.
I assume that they're not because, of course, all genres and sub-genres have their strengths and their weaknesses, and this is a good thing because I'm not sure I want to stick to just apocalyptic novels for the rest of my life.
And if they were all this great, I'd have no choice in the matter.
Ugh, I'm having next-book malaise this morning. And I have some incredible looking books jostling into the queue: Broken Monsters, The Paying Guests, The Bone Clocks, Museum of Mistakes, The Girl With All the Gifts, Brother of the More Famous Jack, The Miniaturist, The Book of Strange New Things.
I am reluctant to commit to anything else because I am already married to Station Eleven.
You guys, this book is incredible. If, like me before reading this book, you read apocalyptic and cringe, please please don't move on. Does it help if I tell you that it is partially set in the current era, before the collapse of the world? Does it help if I tell you that much of the apocalyptic part is is during the time immediately after the collapse so it's all too painfully easy to imagine precisely what it would be like if this all happened to you today? Does it help if I tell you that I was at the pharmacy yesterday, the day I finished the book, and it all felt sort of surreal and creepy because while I was paying I began thinking about losing it all: the other people, the debit card (and all monetary associations), the medication, the gummy bears on the rack beside me, the entire building, the entire neighborhood?
The collapse of civilization is, clearly, a central component of Station but the characters are the spine: strength and weakness, beauty and hideousness, sadness and tenderness.
Lovely, lovely breakout novel for Mandel. This one book has instantly catapulted her to one of my favourite authors. ...more
Although through the descriptions of the bipolar condition in this book, I feel like I can recognize some very trace elements in my own behavior (I'mAlthough through the descriptions of the bipolar condition in this book, I feel like I can recognize some very trace elements in my own behavior (I'm not, like some of those whom Forney told about her own bipolarism trying to say I have this condition), I'm not sure that I'm aware of anyone in my own life with this condition. So it's nice to real such an intimate and honest account from someone with bipolar so that I can better understand what it's like.
I resist taking medications myself even for minor, transitory conditions so I can't even begin to imagine the conflict and frustration for someone like Forney facing this process for such a significant condition, and her fears that it would affect her creative process. I feel like I would be in tears all the time (even if I were in a recognized manic state).
Another great addition to my graphic-novel explorations! ...more
I'm not really sure why I went into this novel feeling slightly prejudicial.
Jess Walter is from one of my favourite places in the world: Washington StI'm not really sure why I went into this novel feeling slightly prejudicial.
Jess Walter is from one of my favourite places in the world: Washington State. That alone should recommend him. I think maybe I was slightly put off from reading Beautiful Ruins because I waited too long to do so. The book was published back in 2012, and I heard so much about it back then that I wanted to read it, but then I didn't and experienced that inundation from NPR and the NYT and really, every literary source I follow. When that happens and I haven't managed to read the book during it's initial celebratory release time, my brain starts whispering to me that it really can't be that great, that it's overhyped, over-exposed.
But a sweet friend gave me the book for Christmas, and because he liked it so much. I was visiting him last month, so I felt like I had to finally read it.
And I'm so glad I did.
Whew, there's a lot of slander here, for both the imaginary and real-life (Richard Burton) characters. While reading I had a lot of questions like, "Wait, is Richard Burton still alive? Was he really that much of an ass?" And since Richard Burton is dead - thanks, Google! - (I'm not all that up on celebrity-alive-or-not-statuses), "Could Richard Burton's estate sue over a book like this?"
And I liked everything: the settings (Cinque Terre, Los Angeles, Washington state...), the characters, the writing.
But my favourite thing about Beautiful Ruins?
Nothing ended in the expected, Hollywood sort of way. Okay, one of the relationships sort of did (but only after deviating for several years into the unexpected), and it was the one you most hoped to end in that way. We are introduced to meet-cutes in the typical sort of way, expect grand, deep romances out of others, expect a particular jerk to keep being a jerk, which he mostly does, but then also surprises us slightly.
Will absolutely be reading more of Jess Walter. ...more