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Far from the Tree

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Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.

389 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 3, 2017

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About the author

Robin Benway

13 books1,941 followers
Robin Benway is a National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of six novels for young adults, including Far From the Tree, Audrey, Wait!, the AKA series, and Emmy & Oliver. Her books have received numerous awards and recognition, including the PEN America Literary Award, the Blue Ribbon Award from the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults, and ALA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. In addition, her novels have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and have been published in more than 25 countries. Her most recent book, Far From the Tree, won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, the PEN America Award, and was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, NPR, PBS, Entertainment Weekly, and the Boston Globe. In addition, her non-fiction work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Bustle, Elle, and more.

Robin grew up in Orange County, California, attended NYU, where she was a recipient of the Seth Barkas Prize for Creative Writing, and is a graduate of UCLA. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Hudson.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,103 reviews
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
March 24, 2018
What an absolutely amazing contemporary novel. I am truly BLOWN AWAY by how fantastic this story is. I would recommend it to absolutely everyone.

CW: teen pregnancy, adoption, foster care system, alcoholism

I don't feel I even have the words to express how fantastic this book is. It is touching, emotional, heart-warming and heart-wrenching at the exact same time. Far From The Tree is one of those books that causes you to have a weight on your chest the entire time you are reading. I cried from sadness and happiness all throughout the novel. This novel is absolutely at the top of my recommendations list to anyone interested in serious contemporaries. One of my absolute new faves.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
611 reviews87.5k followers
March 12, 2018
This was so well done! The writing was great and I truly felt for the characters and their struggles. I will admit I did struggle a bit with a suspension of disbelief just in regards to the fact that the mother had 3 kids in a very short period of time when she was extremely young. But, that was a very minor thing. Overall I thought this book was really good!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
June 11, 2019
🌟full review posted on blog!

4 1/2 stars. That was... unexpected. Far From the Tree is an exploration of family, the one you find and the one you're born into. Great concept, right? But I definitely did not guess just how good this would be. A story like this is one that can only succeed based off stellar character work, and my expectations for character work in contemporary is often quite low. But this was so lovely.

This book revolves around three siblings, each with their own conflicts.
🌹Grace has recently given birth and put a girl up for adoption. Ostracized at school and by her ex-boyfriend, she’s trying to fit in.
🍁 Maya is living with divorcing parents and a dysfunctional home situation. And also her first girlfriend.
🍃Joaquin is a foster child trying to decide whether to trust his maybe adoptees.

And guess what: I loved all three of them. I don’t want to give away much about this book, because it’s one best experienced. But if I were to sum this book up, it feels so personal . With such fantastic characters, the friendship and family element totally stands out.
The older she got, the more human her parents seemed, and that was one of the scariest things in the world. She missed being little, when they were the all-knowing gods of her world, but at the same time, seeing them as human made it easier to see herself that way, too.

Oh, and I love the representations of being adopted. It's amazing. And I adore the way Maya is represented as a gay girl.
It turns out she wasn't the only gay kid at school, and she was never harassed or teased - but she found she didn't know how to be affectionate with friends. Would they think sh was hitting on them if she just hugged them hello? Would she make it weird just by being herself? It hadn't mattered with Lauren, but at her new school, Maya found herself holding back, using sarcasm as affectionate until it became habit, until it became who she was.

This book feels so personal, and so emotional, but also so hopeful. It’s the perfect tone for this kind of story. Would highly, highly recommend.

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
January 15, 2019
families come in various shapes, sizes, colours, personalities, and dynamics. no two families are the same and thats what makes them so wonderful. this book is a perfect example of that.

this is a story about three biological siblings who are separated into different homes/paths as infants and later reconnect once they discover each others existence.

and reading about the desperate longing these siblings have for each other, as well as their desire to meet and grow into a family, it made realise how much i take my own family for granted. the overwhelming love and support and hope that radiates off of the pages of this book is so just wholesome.

its true that no family is perfect, but this story so beautifully portrays how a family can feel like the perfect home. and sometimes family just really means those you love and who love you in return. its the people who support us, comfort us, teach us, are honest with us, and help us, regardless if they are genetically related or not.

in essence, family is what you make it, no matter how far from the tree.

4 stars
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
December 27, 2017
4.5 stars for this one.

Robin Benway's Far from the Tree recently won the National Book Award. It's a beautiful, thought-provoking tearjerker of a book, a meditation about family and its different forms, as well as the fears we don't share with those we love, and how what we don't say is often more of a roadblock than the things we do.

At times this book had me like:

While at other times it had me like:

Grace is an only child, although she's always known that she was adopted. But shortly after she gives birth to her own daughter while she's still in high school, and gives the baby up for adoption, she decides that it's time to start looking for her biological mother. She more than surprised to find out from her parents that Grace had two biological siblings—an older brother, Joaquin, and a younger sister, Maya, whom she never knew existed.

Maya is tremendously outspoken about everything, perhaps because she's the lone brunette in a house full of redheads. Her adopted parents' marriage is floundering, her mother has a drinking problem, and she's always felt the outsider in her family, since her younger sister was born shortly after her parents adopted her. She's not sure what she hopes to find in her biological siblings, but she hopes it brings her security.

While Grace and Maya were adopted as babies, Joaquin has spent his life in and out of foster families. Even the times he let his guard and his heart down, he ultimately was disappointed and hurt, so he's determined not to let that happen again, even when the situation looks promising. More than anything, he's afraid that he believes he can hurt the people who care about him, so he's afraid to let anyone get too close, even Grace and Maya.

Each of the siblings has their emotional wounds and their secrets, which poses challenges for their relationship but also demonstrates just how much they have in common. Beyond their mutual love of eating their French fries with mayonnaise, and their similar physical characteristics, the three share the fear of telling the people they care about the truth, about letting them see all of their problems, which has resulted in friction with others in their lives. But little by little, they let their walls down with one another and try to help each other face those fears—which is far easier said than done.

"Maya wondered if it would ever be like this with Grace and Joaquin, the ability to just sit quietly side by side, content in the knowledge that no matter what happened with your parents, or your girlfriend, that your siblings will still be there, like a bookend that keeps you upright when you feel like toppling over."

There is a lot of emotional upheaval in this book, as the siblings deal with their own issues as well as search for their biological mother. I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I'll admit I found their inability to verbalize the things they were afraid of/angry about tremendously frustrating. I know this was a realistic depiction of how people, particularly teenagers, often handle their problems, but to have it be the case with three people at the same time was a bit bothersome.

Beyond wanting to shake the characters so they'd finally say what needed to be said, I really enjoyed this book and was tremendously moved by it. It was a very real reminder about the fears and anxieties adopted children and children in the foster care system face, and it also demonstrated how feeling like you belong for the first time can truly make a difference.

This is a really well-written book. Benway had an ear for dialogue that was on-target for teenagers without making them sound so much wiser and more sarcastic than their years. I'm always a big fan of books which make me feel while they make me think, which is why I definitely recommend Far from the Tree.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Christy.
3,814 reviews32.4k followers
September 25, 2022
5 stars

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“It took us fifteen years to find each other, but we still did! And sometimes, family hurts each other. But after that's done you bandage each other up, and you move on. Together. You've got us now, like it or not, and we've got you.”

This book couldn’t have been more perfect for me. It had the absolute best family dynamic and gave me all the feels. This story moved me. It was inspirational and so so good.

Far from the Tree starts out with sixteen year old Grace who just gave birth to her own little girl. It was an impossible decision to make, but Grace decided to give her baby up to a loving family who could take care of her and give her the life she deserved. This made Grace start questioning who she is and where she comes from. She talked to her parents and decided it was time. Time for her to look for her own birth mother.

Grace was adopted as a baby and has grown up as an only child, but soon she finds out she has an older brother, Joaquin, who is seventeen, and a younger sister, Maya, who is fifteen. Maya, like Grace, was adopted as a baby, but Joaquin never was. I loved getting the perspective of all three siblings. All of their lives and stories were so different and the way it came together was so beautiful.

All the siblings stories were great and had something real and raw, but Joaquin’s story, especially broke my heart. By the end, I was crying buckets but they were mostly happy tears. I just loved this family. I listened to this book in audio format and it was narrated by Julia Whelan who does an incredible job voicing all of these characters.

Far from the Tree is very much a family focused book. It’s about adoption, birth families, and how family is family and it’s all the same because it’s all love. This was such an amazing book for me. It’s a contemporary YA with little to no romance, and that was perfectly fine with me. It was flawless just the way it was. I can’t recommend this book enough, I’m sure it will be making my top favorites read in 2019!
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,795 followers
November 8, 2017
Sap Warning
I come from a big family and even though at times they can be annoying as heck and other times make me want to jump out of a window, theyre literally my life and I would die without them
okay im done my sap – gross


kermit gets me

- BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL and honest sibling rep. this was done so sosososooso well
- Theyre annoying and irritating and you want to punch them sometimes but like they got your back no matter what and damn boi that’s some hardcore loyalty
- I loved how the book expressed how dysfunctional families can be, but that doesn’t make them any less important
- Damn im really getting sappy but I CANT HELP IT THIS BOOK MAKES ME LIKE THIS
- So much character development
- So much multi-layered characters
- It feels so bloody real
- Okay so listen, I cried….like a lot…its NOT my fault these KIDS, THEY KILLED ME theyre so precious and sweet darling little teddy bears and they hurt my heart
- I literally had to stop reading more than once just to contain myself bc I was just not doing well with the feels
- Robin benway is hilarious and I want to be her friend
- I really really really loved how the whole thing with the mom was handled, wow, you got me robin benway, I was properly surprised
- Also this is a contemporary but like benway shooks you up so many times, legit from the first paragraph you will be like !!??!!???!11?!1?!!??!
- And like it deals with SO MANY important and serious topics
- But still manages to perfectly balance that with the humour and cuteness
- The conversations between the siblings were literally me and my brothers like I relate so hard I had to punch a pillow
- Maya’s sarcasm/humour tho, girl, yes
- So just like please read it because its beautiful and funny and sweet and it hurts so much
- “I know you don’t believe it now, I know you might not ever believe it, but Mark and Linda are like those training wheels, too. What you described? That’s what parents do. They catch you before you fall. That’s what family is.”

Excuse me while I go cry again

5 stars!!

Buddy read with smol elise

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,006 reviews36k followers
January 31, 2018
Library overdrive Audiobook...narrated by Julia Whelan......
.......Julia is a ‘book-reading-pro’!!! I’d go out of my way to listen to books read by her. She’s really terrific....making each character come ALIVE with very distinct personalities.

I completely agree with the publishers summary of this National Book Award Winner....
“Perfect for fans of NBC’s “THIS IS US”, ( I am a fan), Robin Benway’s beautiful interweaving story of three very different teenagers connected by blood explores the meaning of family in all its forms - how to find it, keep it, and how to love it.”

I can’t stress enough how WONDERFUL THIS AUDIOBOOK WAS.
There are already many other beautiful reviews....Hannah Greendale, Larry H, Suzanne,
Ken, Susan, Maria, Gina, Andrea, Nicole, Rachel, Jenifer, Jessie, Sarah, Vicki, Julie, etc. ......
I enjoyed them all.....
So, I want to simply add I loved LISTENING to this story. The narrator was so good -I picked up feelings from every sigh and cough. I laughed and I cried.
......( definitely cried with Joaquin once) - I rolled my eyes - with Maya a few times, and was incredibly heartbroken for Grace and Joaquin in different ways. I felt sadness for Maya too - but kinda different - I felt she was a little more resilient.
I loved Grace, Maya, and Joaquin. All of them are Permanente Book Friends living inside me!!!


Maya kept me laughing. I needed her sarcastic personality- and cherished it for tension relief. I could just imagine driving a car with her in the passenger seat....she would be giving me hell for driving too slow and listening to old lady radio stations: NPR...lol....

**LARRY H**: you are soooo right - BONDING OVER Condiments/ mayonnaise.... was soooooo CHARMING!! Why do we get teary in these moments? Laughing and crying!
I was soaking in our pool listening to that scene. Loved it.

My first cousin, Shelley was adopted. A year later Holly was born, then Karen, then Moses. I was very close to all 4 of my cousins growing up: them living in a mansion in Piedmont - but I’ve stayed especially close to Shelley during our adult years....yet I haven’t talked to her or any of my cousins for over a year. So now I feel sad about it.
I promise to call my cousin this week!!!

Not much else to add - other than this is a BEAUTIFUL BOOK!

Heartfelt ....heartfelt.....heartfelt!!!
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
February 20, 2018
Okay. First, we must talk about the most important thing, and that is that cover. Holy sh*t that thing is beautiful. Man oh man. I hate myself for reading this as an ebook out of excitement instead of waiting to buy a copy. I’m way too materialistic for this BS.

Now we can talk about the actual contents.

I first heard about this book because it won the National Book Award for Young Adult Literature, and I was doing a very grown-up blog post for the very grown up college-affiliated blog I’m part of on the best books of the year. (Objectively speaking. Like, awards and stuff. Offering up my measly weird pickings from last year would have been...not awesome.)

I was p surprised??? I read Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway, which was fine, but nothing to write home about. Let alone write the National Book Award about! Hahahaha.


It’s a contemporary and it has a pretty cover and it won a Big Award, so I figured may as well.

And that’s pretty much what I got. It’s a contemporary. It has a pretty cover. I see why it won an award. But it just didn’t...click for me.

It’s diverse, which I like. It’s a new, unique story. I haven’t read that many books about adopted families, let alone biological siblings adopted into different families. And I did really like the budding sibling relationship between the three! I have a soft spot for siblings.

But other than that...I don’t know. I feel like this book is like. The Mona Lisa, or something. I can recognize what’s rad about it from an objective standpoint. It’s nice looking. I would keep it in my home. But it doesn’t make me feel anything.

I sound sociopathic now. I didn’t aaaaaactualllyyyy feel nothing while I read this! Their family development is so good. There are emotional moments. But I didn’t connect with the characters that much. They felt kind of half developed to me. Maybe afterthoughts to their plotlines?

I don’t know. This wasn’t bad. I don’t not recommend.

What I do not recommend is this review!!! Oh my god!!! I’m the worst ever!!!

Bottom line: Looks great on paper (which you would think would be good enough for a book...buh dum ch) but something is MISSING AHHHHH I AM LOSING IT.
Profile Image for Yusra  ✨.
249 reviews508 followers
April 15, 2023
reread #1: i’m honestly in tears. like i can’t even explain how good this book is. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. and it’s saving my reading challenge so yeet

5 stars ✨

"Seventeen years is a long time to wait for a family."

I can't express in words how much I loved this book. It was just what I needed, everything I wanted and so much more . It's been a loooong time since I've had a 5 star read (actually, I think this is my first 5 star of 2018? correct me if I'm wrong? but yay?).

When I say I love contemporary, or whenever I get the need to read contemporary books this is what I'm talking about. This is the feeling I crave for when I'm done with reading fantasy or dystopian novels, or have just recovered from a slump, or a really bad book. Seriously, this was so freaking good & please let the author release more books. Maybe pt. 2 of this book would be nice.

"Far from the Tree" is a book oriented mainly around family, loss, acceptance, and so much more. & everything was executed so so so well, in the most perfect of ways.
this is one of the books that made my heart feel heavy and sad and depressed but also gave me such happiness? how is this possible?


first of all, what a powerful story. Grace and her character,,, it was everything. her maturity level combined with her easy going personality just had me screaming at the top of my lungs that WE NEED MORE CHARACTERS LIKE GRACE IN THIS WORLD. her story is one of teen pregnancy and the struggles of giving up your child for adoption. but the twist is that she's adopted herself, so it's no surprise that after going through the whole experience herself, she asks her foster parents to tell her everything they know about her biological mom. all of her scenes blew me away and hurt my heart. IT WAS SO GOOD. holy, I'm still getting over how sad I was/am.
I felt the authenticity of everything going through her head, the struggles she was facing. & it doesn't help that while she was giving birth, the baby's father was getting crowned homecoming king.
yeah. that's all you need to know about Max. he's a douche.


maya is crazy, relatable, funny... I loved her considerably less than the others, mainly because I couldn't connect to her character as much.
her foster parents are getting a divorce. her mom has a drinking problem. she's like a machine of anger and love and wonder. SO MUCH LOVE

Joaquin 🌿

There was no one to take a picture of him standing under the blue ribbon that someone had pinned to his drawing at the school's art fair in fourth grade, or to drive him to that one birthday party across town in fifth.
...He still had that blue ribbon, though. He kept it buried at the back of his sock drawer, its edges frayed from the eighteen months that Joaquin had slept with it under his pillow.

I have to say, he was my favorite character and he was the reason I kept breaking apart when reading. I just wanted to give the poor boy happiness and wanted to see him joyful and wanted him to love himself so badly. I'm close to weeping just writing this. Such a well-crafted character.
Let me just tell you, too, he's a sweetheart. & I loved him. & this is why I wish I had an older brother.

He hadn't realized it until he said it, but Joaquin thought that if anyone had ever hurt either one of these girls, he would grind them to dust.

This was so freaking powerful, let me just tell you this was AFTER LIKE ONE MEETING I THINK and he was ready to do anything to protect his sisters & it just comes to show how deep these bonds connecting family are. & it also comes to show how amazing Joaquin is.
his story deals with foster care, travelling from house to house but never finding a home. He's been adopted once, but that didn't work well, and he's been in the foster care system all his life.
naturally, he's unwilling to trust anyone., which broke my heart. & I wish he could get his childhood back so he can be loved. but his story is so raw and enduring and beautiful.



He may have taken some warming up to, but I loved him. Let me just insert the quote that confirmed my love for him;

"It has pockets," Grace said. "That's always nice."
"It is." Rafe said, then stuck his hand in the front pocket and flapped it a little. "Room for all my secrets. Sorry, that's me attempting humor again, in case you couldn't tell.

he was the bright spot in Grace's life, and so funny and cute and adorable. I thought this would be a case of rebounds and insta-love but it sure wasn't.

Here's another joke from him cause why not,

"I just... I'm not really looking to hook up with or date anyone right now, okay? I don't want to."
Rafe : "Woah, woah, woah." ... "Who said anything about hooking up or dating? I said yogourt. They don't even rhyme!

And later on, Grace tells him this again, and he's all like;

"Okay, honestly, Grace? Why do you keep insisting that I'm trying to date you? This is sexual harassment, that's what this is. In my place of employment, even."

love him.

just in general, this book covered family so well. Like please, please, please go read it. This is me begging. For you. To read it.

"Well, she's kind of annoying." Grace said. She hadn't even known it was true until she said it. "She kept interrupting me, she only talked about herself, and she was sort of rude, too, honestly.".
"Honey?" Grace's mom said.
"Welcome to having a sister."

Like how much more accurate and loving is this going to get?? HOW MUCH MORE?

Family hurts. But family also puts you back together. And I loved that the author just stressed that blood relationships mean a lot; but other relationships mean a lot, too.

let's just count the number of times I've used the word "love" in this review like damn my heart

I though this book was not going to end well. I mean, I was just like, everything's getting wrapped up way too quick and what?????? BUT THAT ENDING. OMG. OMG. OMG. PULLED THRU LIKE NOTHING ELSE EVER HAS

I don't want to say much more, because I don't want to spoil anything or give away too much. But seriously, read this. the cover is beautiful, the book is beautiful... & then message me so we can cry together.
Profile Image for  ••Camila Roy••.
161 reviews49 followers
June 26, 2018

"Seventeen years is a long time to wait for a family''

This book is an example of why I need the Goodreads Rating Scale to be bigger. On a scale of 1 to 10, definitely a 10!

Robin Benway is an amazing writer. I could not put this book down. I was reading it at school in-between classes, in the car (which I NEVER do) and I think at one point I actually read while walking. I think it’s safe to say I was obsessed.

This is the story of three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

We get three POVs, told in the third person (which I think was definitely the way to go). There’s Joaquin (older child), Grace (middle child) and Maya (the younger child. I love Grace’s character because she seemed very real and non-fictional to me. Maya is the one I relate to because of the sarcasm and the upbeat attitude. And Joaquin is so sweet and lovable, I wanted to wrap him up in a blanket and hug him! The relationship between the siblings is awkward at first but they soon become closer and more comfortable around each other. They each have special traits and qualities that complement the other two. Every time they acknowledge each other as brother or sister, I felt like crying. I never realized how important and personal those words are before now.

Not only do the characters have to deal with the stress and emotions of meeting for the first time, but they’re also experiencing changes in their household (a teenage pregnancy, a divorce, among other things). I loved how supportive they were of each other through all the lows and how they celebrated the highs.

I’m not sure how much thought went into writing this book but it seems like a lot. The author managed to build each personality individually, include realistic and believable conflict and wrap it all up nicely in just 300 pages. I honestly think this should’ve been longer. I want to see more of their interactions; I want to know what happens with their love interests and what about Grace’s baby? Oh how I wish I knew…

*Side note: I was shocked to realize I haven’t read many books involving teen pregnancy. Not sure if YA authors don’t know how to handle the topic or I haven’t looked enough*

Overall, an excellent book that I think EVERYONE should read. It is now one of my all-time favorite contemporaries.
Profile Image for ✨ A ✨ .
427 reviews1,708 followers
December 12, 2019
It has been a while since I've read a YA contemporary focused on siblings and not on a romance as the main feature. It is common for books to feature either only-children or siblings that don't get along. Sibling bonds are hardly ever explored and I really enjoyed this book because of that.

Our three siblings were all given up by their mom as babies. Grace and Maya were adopted almost immediately but Joaquin has been in the foster care system his whole life.

When Grace tells her parents she wants to find her biological mother they let her know that she has two other siblings as well. Thus Grace and Maya meet and together reach out to their brother Joaquin.

It was so beautiful to see these three grow closer. They each have their own problems and at first are hesitant to open up, after all they are practically strangers.

Their journey looking for their mom brought them closer. Just being there for one another and opening up was so beautiful to read I cried many MANY times.

This writing was so easy to read, beautiful and sad and left me with a smile on my face.

Buddy read with my bestie who has committed the grievous crime of insulting my husband Will Herondale (yes I'm still bitter)
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,825 followers
April 7, 2019
Very well done book addressing adoption and family. When you hear the word family, what does it mean to you. After this, you may be asking yourself the same question and the answer might surprise you.

I thought the characters in this book we're great. In the middle of reading, my book club had a discussion about the characters and how we connected to them. It was interesting to see how we all approached them differently and how what might appeal about one character to me was a turn off for another reader. When the author can make you feel this way about the characters, they have definitely done their job.

Overall, I am very pleased. It is not the most complex book which may turn some readers away, but it is far from simple. I thought it the perfect mix of YA "twee-ness" and tough life questions. I especially felt deep in my own soul the anxiety the three main characters felt as they searched for answers and tried to make the right moves in the chess match of life.

Anyone from teen to adult, if you like a good story, check it out!
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,051 reviews49.1k followers
May 26, 2019
unexpectedly beautiful

i requested this audiobook from my library on a whim and honestly had no clue what to expect. as gorgeous as the cover is, i think 5-10 books were published with similar covers around that time (nicola yoon etc) so for some reason i thought this was going to be a love story.

imagine my surprise when chapter 1 opens with a teenager giving birth.

this is a story about adoption, found families, and LOVE. this book came to me at the perfect time as i am starting to figure out what sort of family i want for myself (getting old is weird y'all). it reaffirmed thoughts i've been having since i was like 7 years old, and that was exactly what i needed.

as i was listening to this, i kept thinking to myself "this is so perfectly plotted and executed" and "i want to be able to write like this." it's a harder hitting contemporary that never stoops to 'this is us' type manufactured angst. the characters feel real and i FELT for them.

i own a physical copy of this book, and so often when i'm done reading an audio for a book i physically own i have to make the decision of keeping or unhauling. but i intend on keeping this one forever.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,135 reviews8,140 followers
October 24, 2019
What a wonderful story. Truly refreshing to read a novel that seems to capture a specific experience but makes it feel universal. Benway crafts characters that feel vivid and real. I was immediately captivated by their stories and then fell in love with them as the stories progressed.

Far from the Tree follows Grace, Maya and Joaquin. They are biological half-siblings who do not realize the others exist as they were adopted or fostered to separate families after being born. We start out with Grace, a 16-year old girl who is about to give birth to her own daughter and then put her up for adoption. Then we jump to Maya who is struggling with difficult family dynamics including parents on the cusp of divorce and an alcoholic mother. Finally, we meet Joaquin who has been moved from foster family to foster family throughout his 18 years of life, but ultimately lands in a good home with Mark & Linda—though the trauma from his past has not left him.

The 3 characters' lives intertwine to tell a story of belonging and hope and love, that family sometimes is the people you choose more than the one you are born into. This is a book that will make you laugh and cry and *feel*. I got shivers at times from scenes that reached in and tapped a nerve or tugged a heartstring, even though my lived experiences are vastly different from these characters. Benway captures something on the page that we all feel or have felt at one point in our lives: the need to be accepted, chosen, loved.
Profile Image for ˗ˏˋ lia ˎˊ˗.
282 reviews376 followers
March 1, 2021
“it took us fifteen years to find each other, but we still did! and sometimes, family hurts each other. but after that’s done you bandage each other up, and you move on. together. you’ve got us now, like it or not, and we’ve got you.”

beforehand, i genuinely didn’t know what to expect from this book. at the end of last year, i did a huge unhaul kinda thing of my ebooks because i owned sO many that i still wouldn’t be done with them in 7 years and would not be able to get to my physical tbr or new releases. this book was supposed to be one of them, and i am so glad that that wasn’t the case in the end.

almost all of my goodreads friends gave this book 5, or really good 4, stars and i thought to myself that i should be loving it as well then. the premise was really intriguing but vage and even about a hundred pages into the novel i still wasn’t quite sure. like, what was the purpose? what does it try to achieve? what is it trying to tell us? just tell a bunch of stories from three points of views and call it a day? nevertheless, it was really light, easy and fast to read so i didn’t give up on it. i also couldn’t connect to any of the protagonists in the beginning though. sure, i liked them, but i didn’t FEEL anything towards them and that’s kind of something i need to really love a story. and oh boy, how drastically that changed.

the last half was SO GOOD!!! i feel like i really can’t get much into it without spoiling so i’ll put that stuff at the end, but i like how we finally got some actual plot and the characters were developed so so well in the course of the story. their character traits were something that i really enjoyed reading about and i immediately felt myself drawn to every single one of them, attached and not able to let go.

audiobook misc: because i like to read contemporaries as audiobooks, i got the audio for this one but i’m kind of disappointed at the fact that this story was told in three different perspectives, yet we didn’t get three different narrators for the protagonists WHAT A WASTE. that especially was obvious for joaquin’s chapters because i didn’t really connect to him in the beginning before i really got into the story and feel like that would’ve been more the case if his narrator had been a guy and not a white woman (who still did a good job though).

spoilery stuff:

→ 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,326 followers
August 8, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

“That’s what parents do. They catch you before you fall. That’s what family is.”

🌟 I have heard a lot of good things about this book, I also heard that it is a great book about family and I really really wanted to read something about family! I read contemporaries mostly as a change from the heavier fantasy books. I usually pick fluffy and light contemporaries but I also like those that are supposed to give you all the feelings.

🌟 I don’t know how to say this, but if I was a tree, my feelings would have been far from the tree (captain bad puns strikes again), I did not feel what I was supposed to be feeling. it took me more than half of the book to even start caring about any of the characters and that is quite a problem for me. This is a book about humans so the characters should be what stand out most for me!


🌟 I also went with slightly different idea about what this book will be. it focused more on adoption which is a rare thing in my community so I can’t say that I relate to the subject as others would. Of course it is an important subject and I am glad that a book took the time to shed light on it!

🌟 The writing was not actually bad, not bad at all! I liked quite a few quotes but it is just a matter of getting into the story that was hard! I don’t know if I am that cold hearted or if it was really flat? I know many liked the books and that I am minority here and that is kind of reassuring for those who are still willing to read it!

“The older she got, the more human her parents seemed, and that was one of the scariest things in the world. She missed being little, when they were the all-knowing gods of her world, but at the same time, seeing them as human made it easier to see herself that way, too.”

🌟 My rating is still good because the second half was good and once more things started happening and I was invested into the story, I found myself really enjoying it. I like how things concluded at the end and I am not gonna say much because this is spoiler free.

🌟 Summary: I can break up the book into two halves, a first half that was hard to get into with flat characters and a second half that was better in all aspects! I had a bit of high expectations for this which would account for my mild disappointment but it is still an enjoyable ride!
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews222 followers
June 7, 2018
You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.

Far From the Tree took me far out of my comfort zone in the most excellent way! It’s only the second audiobook I’ve listen to till the very end and it’s YA.

Here’s what I loved:

The Characters – Grace, Maya, and Joaquin were well-developed characters to love. They’re all basically good kids carrying more baggage than most adults could bear. Some of their baggage is shared and some is very specific to the character.

The Story – There’s a lot going on here but it all blends seamlessly. Themes explored include teen pregnancy, racism, family dynamics, bullying, and behavioral health and substance abuse issues. Yes, lots of heavy stuff! Yet throughout there’s an underlying sense of hope and healing.

The Feels – As you might guess from reading the above, this is a very emotional read. Sadness, despair, joy, fear, etc. All the feels are there! Be prepared for teary eyes.

The Writing/Narration – I can’t speak to how it would be to read this in print but the language was very easy to listen to. The narrator, Julia Whelan did a fantastic job giving each character a very specific voice.

The Takeaway – Far From the Tree is a beautiful story. It’s YA that’s perfect for readers of adult literary fiction.
Profile Image for sarah.
391 reviews262 followers
July 4, 2020
“nothing was worse than someone wanting you to talk when the words you needed to say hadn’t even been invented yet.”

Far From the Tree is one of those books that I felt like I had a connection with even before picking it up. One of those books where the premise, cover and praise combined together to make me just know i would love it. It was so close to reaching that level, but I wasn't as emotionally invested in the story as it seems most people are.

My favourite part about Far From the Tree was the exploration of family, adoption and nature vs nurture. Three teens find out they are biological siblings after spending their whole lives never meeting their birth parents and assuming they are only children. This book is told in alternating chapters from each of their perspectives and it was so interesting to see how different their lives turned out to be.

I found the concept to be immensely unique and original, in my experience discussions about adoption/ foster care in YA are sadly sparse. I also appreciated the diversity- even though they all share DNA, they are so different. Joaquin is part Mexican, Maya is a lesbian, Grace has her own struggles with teen pregnancy.

“The older she got, the more human her parents seemed, and that was one of the scariest things in the world. She missed being little, when they were the all-knowing gods of her world, but at the same time, seeing them as human made it easier to see herself that way, too.”

I loved the characters. Joaquin was probably my favourite and I particularly loved reading from his POV. Grace was a close second for me, largely due to a certain secondary character that was present in chapters- Rafe! I absolutely loved him and would 100% read a book about him. Pretty please? At the beginning I really disliked Maya. She seemed pretty whiny, young and annoying. Slowly but surely, she grew as a person and by extension- on me! I loved all the siblings' interactions with one another, how pure!

I loved the family interactions were so amazing that I couldn't really care about the romances (excluding Grace's, obviously). Compared to the nuance of the rest of the story they felt quite shallow, a little toxic and just weak. As a positive, they did feel quite realistic for teenage relationships but I just felt like they were a little unnecessary and boring.

Overall, this was an emotional, unique story that I would definitely recommend. I may have had a bit too high expectations, and felt like the concept could have been executed slightly better- but it was an enjoyable experience and a change of pace from what I usually read! If you have any recommendations for similar books to do with adoption, foster care or just sibling relationships in general feel please let me know!

Profile Image for Suzzie.
908 reviews164 followers
December 15, 2017
So beautiful! I loved this book so much. This is a story about three siblings who have been fostered and adopted by separate families very early in their lives, and shows readers the many definitions family can have. I adored every minute of reading this book!

Overall, love the characters, the story, and the meaning behind this entire book!
Profile Image for Jillian .
431 reviews1,780 followers
February 25, 2018
this was emotional and put my heart through the wringer.
this won the national book award for a reason and it's an all time favorite.
family stories are always a favorite of mine and this was just incredible.
i really wanted to read this originally because it was compared to This Is Us and that is one of my all time favorite shows and JESUS IT IS SUCH A GOOD COMPARISON in terms of family and feels and just UGH OMG I HAVE TOO MANY FEELINGS RIGHT NOW.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
March 14, 2018
It’s a perfectly fine feel-good novel about adoption and sibling love, with abundance of compassionate people and HEA for all. A bit too sentimental, simplistic and tear-jerky for my taste.

Reminded me of Sara Zarr’s novels, but less nuanced.
Profile Image for El Librero de Valentina.
266 reviews18.8k followers
September 2, 2018
Lo amé, todo, la historia, los personajes y el inmenso amor que encontré en cada página.

Sigo llorando.

Reseña pronto en el canal
Profile Image for Glitterbomb.
204 reviews
January 21, 2018
So, I may or may not have shaken the the shit out of this thing and yelled WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!! WHY AREN'T THERE MORE BOOKS LIKE YOU IN THE WORLD!!

This thing had be sobbing, and laughing, and sobbing while laughing, and tearing my hair out, and more sobbing, and yelling "How did you know?!?!" I swear there's not a box of tissues or a roll of toilet paper left in the house.

I am emotionally done. I'll write a review later after I put myself back together. Seriously though, read this.


This book is destroying me. It's bringing a whole lotta feelings I thought I had under control to the surface.

I was a teen mum. I'm not ashamed of it, though I was made to feel that way at the time. I was left to 'deal' with it by my son's father and his family. He washed his hands of it and walked away. I did not, and it was the hardest, and most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. My son is now a teen himself and I pat us both on the back and say 'we did it kid'. He's turned out pretty damn alright if I do say so. I'm proud of us.

This is dredging up a lot of the emotions I had 17 years ago. I thought I had put all that behind me, but Robin Benway is eerily good at putting my chaotic mindset (at the time) into words. I can sense this is going to be a healing read for me and I hope other girls in this position can also gain comfort from it.

You're not alone, don't ever feel that you are, and don't ever let anyone say you are less than you are because of the choices you make.
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