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The Farm

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Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules…

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks - a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

Source: Amazon

323 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 7, 2019

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Joanne Ramos

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5 stars
4,390 (11%)
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3 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,323 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
May 13, 2019
Or will she admit, as she has rarely conceded, that life is sometimes more complicated than easy judgements? That maybe, sometimes, you do the most good when it seems like you’re doing nothing much at all.

Some time ago, I read a starred review for The Farm, requested an arc, got approved, and then promptly forgot everything about the book that had made me want to read it in the first place. And let me tell you: I think this is the best possible thing that could have happened.

Words like "dystopia" are being thrown around in reviews of the The Farm, as are comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale, but this is misleading. This book should not be regarded as a dystopia; it is a mere breath away from reality. It is almost entirely a contemporary. Most, if not all, of what happens in this book is already happening. If I had gone into this believing I was getting a dystopian novel, I would have been disappointed.

Instead, The Farm is better viewed as a character-driven exploration of race, immigrants, class, and reproductive rights in modern America. As technology develops, we see the disappearance of blue collar jobs, long-filled by immigrants and the poorest Americans. Out of this will grow - and are growing - service-based jobs. One such job that is increasingly becoming an option for former blue collar workers is surrogacy. This is not a dystopian matter. Companies like Growing Generations already exist, offering you the chance to earn up to $63,000, plus benefits.

This book is about a company called Golden Oaks, similar to Growing Generations above, except that it offers a live-in center for the surrogates to be free from outside threats and distractions, eat only the most nutritious food, and live stress-free.

Ramos uses this setting to examine several very different characters. There's Jane, a Filipina who joins Golden Oaks to earn money for her own 6-month-old baby, and her older cousin, Evelyn, who has a long history of caring for rich people's newborns. There's white, pretty and educated Reagan, a "premium host" who is driven by her need to do good and be of use. There's Lisa, also white, who is on her third pregnancy at Golden Oaks and frequently criticizes the center for its exploitation, calling it "The Farm".
Reagan laughs, surprising herself. It isn’t funny, but it is. It’s all completely ridiculous: three pregnant women carrying other people’s babies talking about second-trimester sex pangs and trying to guess which one of them harbours a billionaire’s fetus.

Through these women, the author weaves a tale that I personally found fascinating. She looks at the way people can be exploited and manipulated based on their character profiles. She looks at racial and class bias and the ludicrous way rich Americans will pay so much more for a white, educated "host" when the kid is 100% theirs anyway. It's ridiculous, and yet I absolutely believed in it.

There are, of course, lots of morality questions. So much deceit goes on under the guise of protecting the surrogates from stress, and the hosts' contracts create many issues. Mae-Yu, the Chinese-American running Golden Oaks, finds loophole after loophole to lie to both clients and surrogates. Questions arise as to whether the center should be allowed to force an abortion, and whose life takes precedence - surrogate or baby's - when the host has signed a contract promising to use their best efforts to ensure the wellbeing of the unborn child.

Ramos really understands all her characters. Her writing never falters as she takes us inside such very different minds and makes each one completely believable. She must have put a lot of thought into all of their situations and motivations. And there are a number of very moving moments, too. I really enjoyed it.

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Profile Image for Kat.
270 reviews80k followers
July 8, 2020
this had a really interesting concept and some thought-provoking questions/discussions, but it definitely could have benefited from a more concrete story arc :)
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews942 followers
February 18, 2019
The Farm is a place where women (especially immigrants) go to serve as surrogates for wealthy families while living in spa-like surroundings. These women are handsomely paid for their services making it a win-win for both parties.

Oh man this could have been such a great book.

If you dive into this book thinking you're getting a nightmarish Handmaid's Tale-ish take on a baby harvesting farm then you're going to be disappointed.

This is a story about class and privilege and the disparity between the high and low ends of the spectrum. The wealthy achieving their goals on the back of those less fortunate has always been the way in America and this story gives a unique take on that truth.

"....in America you only need to know how to make money. Money buys everything else."

After reading this book I feel like the author promised more than she delivered.

The entire book hints at some underlying evil going on at the farm yet nothing ever happens on that front. The Farm itself is pretty straightforward leaving the story to rest solely on the characters, namely the surrogates.

Aside from Jane, the main character, we don't learn a whole lot about the other surrogates, the wealthy parents-to-be or the people running the farm.

Although Joanne Ramos has written a book featuring a timely subject matter, her telling of the story falls flat on all fronts.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,988 followers
January 12, 2020
As I begin writing this review, I feel like it might be an unpopular opinion. However, as of this time, the average rating is 3.51 stars and most of my Goodreads friends seem to be giving it 3 stars. So, while my rating is lower than most, overall the opinions of this book seem to trend downwards.

With my 1 star rating, I feel like doing a bullet point review that is introduced by one of my favorite gifs. This was me throughout this book:

- I am not sure I have ever read a book that was trying so hard to manufacture suspense . . . without success
- This book had the potential to address some serious social issues, but, the way the story was told, refer to Tommy Lee Jones above.
- The characters were not interesting and their personalities were so forced and unbelievable.
- The story was all over the place. I could not tell exactly what it was trying to do or where it was going. The lack of coherent continuity was annoying.
- With all that is mentioned above, I spent most of my time rolling my eyes and praying for it to end.
- When it finally ended and went into a fairly excessive epilogue, nothing had really happened. Everything was over and everything looked like it was going to be fine. As a reader, I went through a whole lot of nothing to end up with a whole lot of nothing.

I hate to start of 2020 with a 1 star book before my first 5 star, but my time with this book was too frustrating to rate it any higher. I think that a few tweaks here and there and some better editing would have done it a lot of good. Also, I go back to the lack of urgency and suspense that made me not care about anything that was going on. If the author could have more organically developed a thrilling and more smoothly flowing storyline, I would have enjoyed this a great deal more.
Profile Image for Brandice.
910 reviews
April 25, 2019
The Farm is a story about women serving as surrogates (hosts) for wealthy clients at Golden Oaks, a private estate in New York. The host selection process is intense and competitive, but offers a large financial reward for those selected who do not breach the strict terms of their contract.

The story predominately focuses on Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, who makes the difficult decision to serve as a host in order to help provide a better life for her young daughter Amalia. Jane’s older cousin Ate, other hosts at the farm, and Mae, Golden Oaks’ Director of Operations, are secondary characters in the story. The book is focused on class and privilege, highlighted by the various decisions different characters make (or have the options to make) depending on their own personal motivations.

The premise of The Farm was interesting, yet the execution was average. The ending was a bit unrealistic. I kept hoping the story would pick up and get better but it just remained an ok read for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for providing an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews596 followers
February 6, 2019
“The Farm”... called “Golden Oaks”, is a surrogacy Farm. Women are impregnated with sperm to host a child. Most of the ‘host women’ are black Caribbean immigrant women. They need jobs - the money is good. The clients are wealthy and white.
It’s an intriguing story - but the writing often felt motionless and toneless. I kept wanting to add some Technicolor.

Jane, ( who left her own baby behind), Lisa, ( feisty rebel of the bunch), and Reagan are all hosts on the farm. Each went through intensive vetting before they were selected. Other main characters are Ate, ( too old to be a host mother- but had been a master Nanny Queen in her prime), and Mae. (Ms. Wealthy-bossy of ‘Golden Oaks)...
For nine months the host women are medically monitored. At the end of nine months - the infant gets handed over to the client whose embryo they carry.
The host women are offered many spa benefits - but also potential penalties.

Topic Themes explored are race, class, inequality, wealth, poverty, immigration, motherhood, trust, friendships, personal freedom, rules, sacrifice, self expression, exploitation, manipulation, childcare, big business, greed, fear and isolation, radical politics, and morality, with an all women dominated cast of characters.

The main female leads and the supporting females all have something to say. At times - there was not much difference between any of them, other than we knew who the HAVES and HAVE NOTS were.

I wanted to like this more than I did. The ending is weak and the epilogue just felt long and senseless.

At the same time - I honesty felt this book had potential.
‘The Farm’, itself.....had me thinking ( not particularly with all the stereotyping and the far-fetched scenarios)....but I do think it’s possible there are surrogacy home - retreats or otherwise. With integrity, these places could be a supportive environment for those serious about surrogacy.

Thank you Random House Publishing, Netgalley, and Joanne Ramos
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,796 reviews2,388 followers
April 1, 2019
2.5 ‘Meh’ Stars

A bit predictable, one-dimensional, the only thing that wasn’t flat for me is the image on the cover. The ending is oddly disconnected to the rest of the book, as though there’s an entire thought process or some key information missing. That being said, I do think that this will likely be commercially successful because it seems to promise so much more.

If you’re thinking this is some sci-fi or dystopian story, it’s not. If you’re thinking of reading this with some idea that this is about women or couples or gay couples so desperate to have a baby or babies that they hire a surrogate to do the physical labor for them, that’s closer to the truth, but even there I felt the story fell flat, and felt untrue. If you’re thinking it’s about poor women, perhaps especially immigrants, who choose to carry another’s child through gestation for financial rewards, it is – but it’s more about those who prey on those weak enough, desperate enough, or whose upper-class privileged background has them wanting to give back in some way.

The Farm, called Golden Oaks, transports these women into a comfortable dorm-like setting, where they are then monitored, what they eat, where they go, who they talk to, etc. for the duration of their pregnancy. For some, this is a step up, in terms of setting, but they all seem to have issues with the level of monitoring for one reason or another.

The message of this novel seems to be summed up in one sentence:

”Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.”

I kept reading thinking this would have more redeeming value at some point, and when I finished reading it I realized I was wrong. The writing is good enough, without being poignant or beautifully written. The epilogue seemed pointless and I was confused why it was even included since it seemed to detract some from the main story and added nothing to it for me.

Surrogacy is an ancient practice that has evolved since Sarai directed Abraham to go to her maid that she might bear his child through her, but this story seemed to wander in the desert for too long, leaving me thirsting for more.

Pub Date: 07 May 2019

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group – Random House
Profile Image for Nadia.
271 reviews178 followers
March 17, 2019
This was an ok read, but could have been even better.

The Farm is a place where young women are recruited to become surrogate mothers for wealthy clients. The recruits are watched at all times, even their emails are monitored, they have a prescribed diet and an exercise plan they have to adhere to. Motivated by the hefty cash bonus paid upon baby delivery, Jane, a single mother from the Philippines, signs up. Jane doesn't mind being at the Farm at first but soon starts missing her little daughter who is less than a year old and was left behind to be looked after by Jane's cousin.

What the book does well is highlighting the economic disparity between rich and poor, the struggles of immigrants and ethnic minorities and their financial motivation to join the Farm. I also appreciated the insight into the lives of Filipino women living in the US. However, one of the problems I had with this book was that there were too many side stories and characters thrown in that were totally unnecessary as they did not add anything to the overall story. The story is told from a number of POV, following stories of a couple of girls at the Farm, the Farm director and Jane's cousin. I did care about Jane and her story and I wished there was more focus on her as the main character.

The ending of the story surprised me, but not in a good way. It felt as if the author wanted a happy ending for every character at all costs, when clearly, things happened between certain characters that they would struggle to put behind them in real life.

Overall, I think the premise of the book is unique and thought-provoking but in my opinion, the author did not push the envelop far enough. What could have been a jaw-dropping dystopia ended up being just an average novel.

Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy.
Profile Image for Felice Laverne.
Author 1 book3,227 followers
February 12, 2020
The Farm has a phenomenal premise with well-executed imagery. The grounds of the "farm" and described so that you feel you're there yourself and the characters are all lifelike and realistic. BUT, I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped I would when I eagerly picked it up. The situations Jane finds herself in the farm lacked the emotion and drama that I'd hoped for. While she was so upset at how confining the farm was, I honestly felt like a lot of the situations weren't that big of a deal and were completely fair under the terms she'd offered to work for the farm. And while I know that Ramos wanted to be true to the soft-spoken, Filipino woman she wanted to portray, I found Jane too meek and boring to really root for her.


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Profile Image for 8stitches 9lives.
2,854 reviews1,640 followers
May 12, 2019
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Joanne Ramos's debut novel, so I must begin by saying: yes, this is one of those rare occasions that the noise was completely justified. Many have described it as a contemporary of Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale, but given the dire situation the world currently finds itself in The Farm is not a million miles away from reality.

So forget what you've been told this is a stunning, complex work of fiction with its roots firmly based in real-world events. Make no mistake, it is a challenging read and brings forth many philosophical, moral and ethical questions which I always appreciate in my fiction. It is so well constructed that you simply cannot fail to be drawn in from very early on. I fully expect this to rapidly become a bestseller and to leave its mark on readers as it did with me.

The effort that has gone into making this a multifaceted, powerful and searingly emotive tale holding many important messages for its readers show that this has been a labour of love for Ms Ramos. We have been warned for several years now about the beginning of the end for people employed in low-skilled jobs as a direct result of the emergence of technology which can carry out those jobs with increased efficiency whilst negating the need to pay a wage or salary. This means those who are made redundant must find an alternative method of making a living, but with little to no expertise, this leaves few jobs open to them.

And that's where Golden Oaks, a facility that houses surrogates for the duration of their pregnancy, comes in. Catering to the uber-wealthy the hosts' lives are controlled in every possible way from conception right through to birth.

Ramos uses this divisive set-up to comment on a variety of increasingly important topics, including the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, technological advancement as a double edge sword, surrogacy, reproductive rights, exploitation, class, race and immigration. She manages with considerable aplomb to show just how lost we've become as a species, but most of all, it signifies just how quickly the famed American dream can turn into a hellish nightmare.

Each of the female inmates is intricately developed as well as three-dimensional, and each holds a different perspective which helps make the story fully rounded. One of the parts that really stood out for me was the fact that these affluent Americans seeking a surrogate will pay significantly more for a white host who is well educated than any other race. Sadly, this seems to be reflective of our reality to some extent where some individuals in society perpetuate the ugly idea of white supremacy, whether intentional or incidental is beside the point.

The Farm is an ominous, claustrophobic, character-driven reality check and an astounding and thoroughly accomplished debut. Thought-provoking, beautifully written and incredibly original, Ramos is a master storyteller who has disguised this intelligent and eminently readable piece, which could be perceived as a warning, as fictional, but given that most of what happens in the book is already happening in reality - just how fictitious is it? Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.
Profile Image for Emily B.
442 reviews441 followers
February 17, 2021
The farm was a thought provoking read which approached many contemporary issues.

Although the beginning was a slow start for me, I’m glad I was able to carry on reading until the end.

What struck me most when reading this book was that no character was portrayed as wholly good or wholly bad. Instead each character displayed deep inner conflicts and personal interests that they were exploring throughout.
Profile Image for Erin.
3,093 reviews484 followers
May 11, 2019
As an avid reader, I can certainly recognize why this book is receiving the hype that it has been getting. The focus on women's bodies, their role as mothers and the business side of pregnancy have been and continue to be very relevant issues. In fact, it makes  The Farm a really great candidate for your next bookclub night. I just don't find myself on that hype train.

A story narrated by several different female characters and I wasn't able to connect with them. Actually, that isn't REALLY true, I actually did find Mae's storyline fascinating and she was such a strongly written character. I felt that I could question her ethics and role in this whole baby making business a heck of a lot more than other characters. It was Jane and Regan- the two characters I believe I was supposed to have a lot of empathy for - I just didn't!

Given the fact that I found myself continuing to shift this book down on my reading priority list, but did enjoy some elements in the story, it was a 3 rating for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date 07/05/19
Goodreads Review 11/05/19
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews287 followers
February 10, 2020
“Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.”
― Joanne Ramos, The Farm

This was quite a read.

The Farm is a book that I have mixed feelings about. I cannot say I loved it but I CAN say it was an incredible read. Both of those things can be true.

I am not going to do a plot review..so many others already have..but I will talk about my feelings abut this book.

First off..nothing that occurs in The Farm is unlikely to actually happen..if it isn't already. The book just does an incredible job in showing the readers the difference in life styles between the Haves and the Have-nots. The top one percent and the people who are not as fortunate..or are they?

I say this because the rich..in this book.. aren't very good people. Nobody working at the farm is a particularly good person. It is a creepy place to be. But I also have no problem seeing why someone would make the choice to work there as a surrogate.

Jane is an amazing character. This book has been described as having characters "so real they could step off the pages". I agree with that. I wanted to give Jane a hug. The writer has done an amazing job bringing these people to life..all of them..and I've no doubt this will, at some point, be a film or even a TV series. How could it not be? And it is sure inspiring buzz.

My favorite character was Reagan. I related to her and loved her in a way..she is someone I would choose to have as a friend. My feelings about Lisa are a bit more complex.

This all being said, I didn't LOVE the book. I did not devour it in one sitting. I thought the creepy factor could have been amped up some, to show the horror of the Farm. There were moments of pure horror but not enough of those. I would have liked less emphasis on all the different characters and more on the sheer and utter dehumanizing of the women. And make no mistake that is what the farm does. It devalues everything..every good thing.

Trust, honesty, loyalty, privacy, human decency..all of that is thrown out the window..not because of any caring for human life and babies but because of..plain and simple..money. These ladies are cash cows and nothing more.

Not hard to envision this. But I did want more of the dread, not because I wanted to be scared but because I feel moments like that are pivotal in showing the..for lack of a better term..gross aspect of what is going on. We get some of that but not as much as I'd have liked.

So, in closing, this is an important book. It's a serious book about reality and what it shows the reader, sadly is that reality can often suck. Sorry for the bluntness but it's true. The epilogue was a bit odd and I'd have liked more depth on that. I'd have also liked to have seen certain things rather then just been told of them..like a confrontation between Reagan and the Farm workers themselves.

These are minor quibbles though. I did enjoy this read will be recommending it to others. My rating is four stars. This book will leave you talking.
Profile Image for Jennifer Blankfein.
384 reviews655 followers
March 25, 2019
Follow my reviews on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com

Review of The Farm and Q & A with Joanne Ramos

What could be better than living on sprawling beautiful property in the country, healthy food being served to you, fresh air and exercise, massages and pampering, and a generous, life changing paycheck, while all your needs are being met? The catch…you must stay on the premises and be separated from your family and friends for nine months while you are pregnant with a baby that doesn’t belong to you.

In this stunning debut novel, The Farm, female-centric and slightly dystopian (will be appealing to fans of The Handmaid’s Tale), author Joanne Ramos creates Golden Oaks, a secluded, country club atmosphere in Hudson Valley, NY where mostly foreign women are bearing children for elite clients who are not able to get pregnant or who choose not to.

Jane, a young, single Filipina mom with an infant, no husband and no secure place to live, decides to leave her own baby with her cousin, Ate, and take a job at Golden Oaks, where she will make enough money to better her life. She is chosen to be a Host, living in a luxury house in the middle of the countryside where her only job is to rest and keep the baby inside her healthy. Nine months is a long time to be separated from your family and as time goes on, Jane starts to question the value of that big paycheck versus her sacrifices associated with being away. She is worried about her young daughter and her cousin, and is unsure the money alone is an adequate tradeoff for the painful separation and the missing of milestones.

Joanne Ramos takes a look at class status; what poor women will give up to ultimately improve their lives, and what wealthy women give up to avoid inconvenience. How much is worth sacrificing for the American Dream? This is a thought provoking, emotionally charged novel I highly recommend! PREORDER TODAY– available May 7, 2019.

The Farm is part of the Bedside Reading program where books are placed on the nightstand at 5 star, luxury and boutique hotels.

Goodreads Summary

Q & A With Joanne Ramos

Q: How did you come up with the idea for a novel centered on a surrogacy farm and do you know anyone that ever worked at one?

A. When I finally dared to commit to writing a book, a childhood dream I’d deferred for decades, I was already forty. Certain ideas had obsessed me for much of my life but finding a way into them—finding the right story to contain them and, also, allow them room to breathe—was difficult. I spent well over a year writing short stories, flash-fiction pieces and “first chapters” of stillborn novels. It was an exercise in persistence and, also, faith. Then one day, when reading my husband’s Wall Street Journal, I happened upon a snippet of an article about a surrogacy facility in India. The what ifs began swirling in my mind almost immediately, and The Farm began to take shape.

Q: In this country do you see Filipina women experiencing economic and social challenges and in general struggling more than white women? And if so, in what way?

A. I don’t think you can really generalize in this way. I know Filipinas who struggle and those who lead cushy lives, and the same goes for white women. I think new immigrants to this country—and they come in all races and colors—do face challenges that ensconced Americans do not. I think domestic workers occupy a strange netherworld where they work in the intimacy of someone’s home and are often hailed as “part of the family”—but of course, they aren’t. That’s a difficult line to balance every day, and by and large, domestic workers don’t enjoy the protections that other workers in this country do. And of course, racism exists—here and everywhere.

Q: In The Farm we see women of different social classes and even in the same class using each other to get ahead. With the #MeToo movement, it generally seems as if most women are outwardly supporting all women across dividing lines. Do you think the situation in your novel is closer to reality? Do you believe women stand by their children first, then other women second?

A. Women, like men, have conflicting needs, desires and loyalties which they try their best to balance. Sometimes they need to compromise; some compromises are betrayals, depending on which side you sit on. Even within the #MeToo movement you see divisions—women who feel #MeToo has gone too far, women who feel it has not gone far enough, women who can relate and women who can’t, women who are changing their minds because of it.

Q: The influence men have on the women in The Farm seems nonexistent. Why did you decide not to include men in the storyline?

A. I didn’t exclude men from The Farm consciously. The book started with Jane and Ate. Their voices came first. All the caregivers I happen to know well are women, and almost all of them are raising their children on their own—the fathers are absent. So, in this way, Jane and Ate’s stories reflect the reality I know. Of course, the Hosts are women, and it made sense to me that the person running Golden Oaks would be a woman. The decision was not one made “on-high”, but an organic development.

Q: Female inequality is a subject that is underlying throughout your novel. But the women considered to be the lowest on the totem pole also have the greatest power, the ability to bear a child. You could have gone a different way in the novel, giving the pregnant women the upper hand. Why choose to create a world that diminishes the unique and valuable aspect of womanhood?

A. I don’t think that motherhood or pregnancy is diminished in The Farm at all! In fact, they are central to the book. The reality is, though, that the power dynamics of the world are not built around motherhood and pregnancy. In fact, for most of history, and in many parts of the world still, the opposite is true.

Q: How long did it take you to write this novel?

A. If you count the year and a half when I wrote in the dark, trying unsuccessfully to find a way “into” the themes that mattered to me, it took around five years. Once I came upon the idea of setting the action in a luxury surrogacy facility, the book took three and a half years to write and edit.

Q: What are you working on now?

A. I have some seedlings of ideas for a second book, but nothing coherent enough to discuss.

Q: What are the last three great books you read and what is on your night stand now?

The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

Essential Essays, Adrienne Rich

Hold Still, Sally Mann

On my nightstand: Forest Dark, Nicole Krauss; Citizen: an American Lyric, Claudia Rankine; The Order of Time, Carlo Rovelli; Saltwater, Jessica Andrews

More information about surrogacy below.

Celebrities who have used surrogacy to grow their family

Surrogacy Farms in India

Surrogacy Farms in Ukraine

Profile Image for Twins.reading.books.
363 reviews1,204 followers
March 25, 2019
The Farm is a very interesting and unique book and Joanne is very talented, the topics within the book are very delicate and so well written within these pages!
The Farm is a place where young women are recruited to become surrogate mothers for wealthy clients! Their life is somehow managed by the owners of the Farm and the orders are very strict! Jane is a single mother from Philippines, she sings up at the Farm and the things are very interesting to read after this part!
The Farm explores so many interesting things, starting with the race, different cultures and Ramos is very magnificent when it comes to emotional parts, I really felt for Jane when she starts to miss her daughter after spending time in the Farm!
The story follows and three other women, Mae is a cooperative executive she is really ambitious in her work! Ate Evelyn who is also from Philippine she is tasked to look after Jane's daughter, and Reagan which I loved so much as a character!
When Jane is carrying the baby she mist live at Golden Oaks where she'll be paid a large sum of money, the whole concept of the book is very engaging and in some parts and suspenseful! It has a fabulous readable narrator and while going at the end lots of amazing stories unfold and it gets very provoking and we highly recommend you to read it!!
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,639 reviews2,149 followers
March 2, 2019
Let's start off with some important clarifications: this isn't women's fiction (that weird category that just means books about women doing things women do that we expect women will read). If I were going to put it in a genre I would choose Horror. That may sound strange, but Horror is less about what happens in a book (or about genre at all, you may say) and more about the feelings a book creates. This is a book full of tension. I was stressed out most of the time I was reading it. Casual details would make me gasp in alarm. The premise of this book isn't just satire or cultural commentary (though it is both of those as well), it's body horror. The Farm is a place where being a surrogate isn't just loaning your womb to someone in need, it's a place where your entire body is now under corporate control. And if that isn't a terrifying topic worthy of a horror novel, I don't know what is.

What I think Ramos does here very nicely is present this story through three very different sets of eyes. There is Jane, a Filipina immigrant who has managed to find low-wage and domestic help work in the US through her cousin, but is struggling to keep jobs when she can't afford care for her infant daughter. There is Reagan, a well-off white girl who ends up as a surrogate because she doesn't know what she wants to do and it seems like a quick cash grab. And there is Mae, the striving Asian-American woman who has been entrusted with running the facility where Jane and Reagan end up. We get to see the full class spectrum through these characters and the clients they work for, and we get to see just how far Mae will go to achieve the positive outcomes she wants to deliver for her demanding, high-end clients. We also get to see how unprepared Jane is for this kind of situation, where her background and experience only make her more vulnerable.

It's a gutsy book and particularly good to dish about, so if you have a book club that enjoys a juicy discussion this would be an A+ pick.
Profile Image for Donna.
167 reviews76 followers
April 26, 2020
What a strange, albeit interesting concept. "The Farm" is called Golden Oaks, and it's a luxurious, resort-like place where women come to spend their pregnancies and deliver babies - for other women. Women who are ultra-wealthy, and can afford to hire the surrogate of their choice to be implanted with fertilized eggs. Women who either can't carry their own children, or can't be bothered with the body-changing, lifestyle-interrupting challenges that being pregnant brings.

This book deals with many socioeconomic themes, as well as walking a fine line between what is ethical and what is absolutely wrong. I was interested in the characters and why they chose to do what they did, including the founder of Golden Oaks, Mae Yu, who had the best intentions led by ulterior motives.

I found the book thought-provoking and disturbing, and I was saddened by the ending, which basically brought one of the main characters, Jane, to a place that she didn't even realize was no better than where she began.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the ARC they shared with me, and my apologies for a much delayed review.
Profile Image for Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows).
1,569 reviews329 followers
March 8, 2019
Unlike books such as The Handmaid's Tale where "surrogates" are used to help continue the human population at a horrid price to the Handmaid's, The Farm gives immigrants and those who need money a chance to be a surrogate for those who have the finances to have a baby through them - either because they cannot have one of their own, don't want to "wreck" their own bodies or are paying top dollar for those surrogates who are educated, test well, have high percentage of carrying to term and have passed the vigorous application process. As if the Host's own genes will play some part in the implantation and vibrant being of this new baby. The catch, and there always is one, is that they are sequestered off to Golden Oaks for the duration of their pregnancy and have to abide by certain rules.

This story revolves mostly around Jane, who leaves her own young daughter behind with the thought that in the long run, they will both be better off with the money that she makes to set up a better future. We also get introduced to Reagan and Lisa, two other Hosts at the Farm that make an impact on Jane. Rounding out this cast is Mae - who works for the company and as such can be manipulative to make sure things run as smoothly as possible, and Ate, Jane's aunt who suggested this process and is taking care of Jane's daughter in the interim.

Ok, guys, I love this idea and I really wanted to love this book but it didn't quite work for me. I think I expected more manipulation and horror than I got - and I know, I know, it's already a horror show when it comes to women's bodies. I guess I was just expecting something.... more... from the story. There is a bit of an undertone through the book that suggests worse things are coming but yet we never get there. The classism and manipulation of the wealthy to the poor is fairly well sorted out and we do get the sense of doing what women need to do and the hard choices that are made as mothers, immigrants, poor women... but it doesn't quite hit the mark fully. The potential is there but the execution, for me, was a bit lacking.

I also was a bit confused how we get to a certain point at the end of the book and then boom, we're now three years in the future and um... what? Not as seamless as it could've been. The subject matter is definitely a timely one. However, I felt I was going into this read on a more dangerous baby making farm type of read and instead I received something wholly different.

Thank you to Random House for this copy.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,221 reviews1,561 followers
May 26, 2019
The Farm by Joanne Ramos is an adult science fiction, dystopian novel. The story within this one is told from multiple points of view throughout by giving a different voice for each chapter with Jane the central character to the story.

Jane is an immigrant from the Philippines who needs a way out and into a better life for herself and her own child. Jane learns of a retreat that takes in young women like herself to “hire” them to carry the babies of rich clients. For Jane this will mean leaving her daughter behind for the nine months.

I’ve seen The Farm by Joanne Ramos compared to a more modern day version of the Handmaid’s Tale and I suppose I should have run away seeing that one is not a favorite of mine. While to me they aren’t very similar they were alike in the fact I was not a big fan of this one either rating it at 2 1/2 stars. The biggest downside to me was way too much telling and not showing which makes it crawl along but I didn’t find the story overly compelling either, just not my cup of tea.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Selena.
493 reviews312 followers
April 10, 2019
I received a free e-copy of The Farm by Joanne Ramos from NetGalley for my honest review.

I was so excited to get a copy of this book. It sounded like it was going to be a good, thrilling, dystopian type of book. Unfortunately it fell flat for me.

The Farm is an interesting read about a resort for surrogate mothers of very wealthy clients. The book is told from the perspective of four different women. The first is the creator/president of The Farm, two others are surrogates, and the last one is a recruiter for the program.

You get to learn how the "farm" came to be, why surrogates have been selected, why the surrogates choose to be surrogates and information regarding who the clients are. You learn difficulties and struggles the surrogates go through. These women are drawn in by a big payout, and they agree to become surrogates for a variety of reasons. But there are rules they must follow. Each one of them conforming differently.

Profile Image for Robin Loves Reading.
2,239 reviews391 followers
January 18, 2019
Would you be willing to give up your life for a few seasons? A relationship, family, education? What if you could spend up to nine months at a gorgeous locale with all of your needs cared for by a devoted team? Well, some women make this very decision to become Hosts for those who need surrogates. They become temporary guests at The Farm, called Golden Oaks.

Mostly immigrant women are involved here and have very little choice when it comes to this difficult decision. Among these women we meet Jane. She was a struggling single mother with an excellent job as a baby nurse. Due to extreme circumstances, Jane is forced to find other employment because of an unfortunate event at her most recent job, With another baby nurse, her cousin Ate, to help care for her young daughter, Jane becomes pregnant as part of her new employment. An incentivized Host. Carrying a baby for wealthy Clients.

Strict rules enforce secrecy. The Hosts only job is to follow a course set in front of them that will allow them to carry to term in the safest, healthiest way possible. Whether or not the money for acting as a Host is worth it compares to the emotional toll placed upon these young women. Will the emotional attachment these women cope with be enough of a trade off to have many women, from several other walks of life, be something that becomes a secure part of the future?

The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of Mae, another powerful character as it was she who designed the surrogacy program. As mentioned, most of the women who become Hosts are immigrants, so race and financial inequality are explored. Truly makes one think. As a mother, I don’t think I could give up my child no matter the financial gain.

I appreciated The Farm very much. I liked it and I disliked it, but I am most certainly glad to have read it. That is why this difficult book rates five stars. It is by far, completely unlike most of what I read. Kind of made me think a bit of The Handmade’s Tale. This book provides a provocative look into a future when you can simply place an ad for things such as having babies simply for financial gain.

The Farm explores racial inequality in a different world. This book further touches on the difficult things forced upon these women. Their freedom is definitely stifled. Again, is it all worth it? A bit futuristic. A bit science fiction. A bit horror (it would be spoilery to say why). Joanne Ramos has truly hit it out of the park. This debut novel is something that will remain with me for a long time.

Many thanks to NetGalley (although I noticed this book via Shelf Awareness Pro) and to Random House for this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

*As this book is slated for release May 7, 2019, I will publish this on my blog on or after April 15, 2019.

Please see all of my reviews on my blog at www robinlovesreading.com.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,751 reviews698 followers
August 7, 2019

I spent a few days listening to this book and I kind of want them back now.

The premise of The Farm was a good one and held so much promise but it all fizzed out into a whole lot of nothing all that exciting. Perhaps I am spoiled by the recent onslaught of amazing thriller/suspense/horror books I've been reading recently? Perhaps I am just spoiled. Maybe that reader was right when he said I had atrocious taste? Either way this book mostly bored me because I was hoping for the big sinister thing to be exposed. Instead I got a lot of little dramas, SOOOO many little and big lies, too many side-trips into mundane daily struggles and far too many pages about taking care of babies and pregnancy woes. I've been there. I don't want to do it again.

This book wasn't for me but it's not a bad book. The characterization is superb. Unfortunately I found myself unable to feel any great emotion for these characters. Sure, I felt bad for some of them - I am not a complete monster, but I never felt emotionally invested. I don't know what I'm saying. It simply didn't work for me. 2 1/2 stars but I'll bump it up to a 3 because I believe my expectations were set too high when it was called a modern day Handmaid's Tale and classified as a dystopia. It wasn't. Most of things that happen in this book are happening now and none of it was earth-shattering.
Profile Image for Michelle.
653 reviews183 followers
May 8, 2019
There are many social issues packaged into this book. Racism, privilege, immigration . . . all come together in this modern day version of The Handmaid's Tale. The premise is intriguing. Young women are paid to serve as surrogates for the Uber rich. During their pregnancy their every need is taken care of. The caveat is that they are required to live on the grounds of Golden Oaks for the duration of their pregnancy where every movement inside the farm and every contact with the outside world is monitored. As a "Host" they must relinguish control over their own lives and serve the desires of their client. There were many valuable elements here. I was particularly taken in by the power structure and the dialogue on motherhood. Throughout the book I was leaning towards 4 stars but just as the plot was building to a crescendo the ending fell flat. It was rather unrealistic and incohesive with the message that I believed Ramos was trying to put forth.
Thanks to GoodReads Giveaways for a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books59.6k followers
November 20, 2019
It sounds like a dream: go to the Farm and take advantage of every amenity, from the organic meals to the daily massages. Not only that, you'll be paid for the privilege. All you have to do once you're chosen to be a Host is become a surrogate. Immigrant and single mother Jane is thrilled when she's selected, until she realizes she no longer belongs to herself. Cut off from her daughter, she cannot leave the grounds and she has no freedom. And she dare not risk what will happen if she tries.

This dystopian tale raises questions about motherhood, money, and the ethics of the concessions and trade-offs we sometimes make for those we love. I thought the premise and world-building were fantastic but found the execution unsatisfying.
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,261 reviews404 followers
August 28, 2020
I picked up this copy from the library without knowing anything about it. Picking up my reserved copies at the door I noticed this on the shelf and asked if I could take it. The editions I noticed on goodreads have a totally different cover, along with the title gives you a good idea what the story is about. I was glad I came to this without knowing anything about it.

I did enjoy the storyline of this book. Although this is a fictitious idea for a business you can see how this does actually happens under the guise of other payments such as expenses. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and appreciated the unlikely friendships. Although I could see that Golden Oaks didn't want their clients to mix and risk

The control and deception was appalling and probably very realistic. The idea of the wellness bracelets was very 1984 and Megan's I was very sad that Jane

This book is all the more poignant given the fact that this happens and who knows, could happen in a more organised way in the future.
Profile Image for Marjorie.
551 reviews57 followers
May 28, 2019
Golden Oaks seems to offer a wonderful opportunity to young, healthy women who need money. The review process is extensive but if you’re lucky enough to be chosen to enter its gates, you’ll have great health care, organic food, massages every day and wonderful fitness equipment. Plus regular pay checks and a huge bonus at the end of your stay. And all you have to do is deliver a healthy baby for someone else.

Jane is from the Philippines. She has a little girl she is willing to do anything for and wants to give her a better life. Jane is one of the lucky ladies accepted into Golden Oaks. But she soon learns that there is a heavy price to pay in return for the promises made to her.

I enjoyed this story of these women and their stay at Golden Oaks. Some of the women, like Jane, were looking for a better life for their loved ones. Some were hoping to give women unable to bear children of their own what they so longed for – a healthy baby. Some were just looking to make what they thought would be an easy buck. However, as with anything involving money, greed pokes its head into their plans. This is a slow book. This is not a thriller as some reviewers have mentioned though there are suspenseful moments. It’s more of a look into the hearts of these women who are being used to produce what wealthier people want. I did not care for the ending at all but I can understand how it was plausible. This is a well-written, thought-provoking novel about women and class.


This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jessie.
259 reviews172 followers
October 27, 2018
The book, about women and their relationship to a surrogacy farm for the ultra wealthy, doesn’t deliver on what I thought would be a thriller based on the book’s description, but rather, hits on lots of topics relevant in our global world full of racial and economic inequity. For me, the book was about Jane, a young Filipina woman working caregiving jobs, her infant daughter Amelia, and her auntie Ate (Evelyn) always hustling to make a life for her kids living back home who she hasn’t seen for decades. Jane winds up at the farm where she meets a couple of white ladies who experience even surrogacy in a way much different from her. The other really strong character for me is Mae, the mixed race mastermind behind the farm, who is trying to climb her way up the corporate ladder while having it all. I appreciate so much that this book makes so visible the domestic workforce that is underpaid and poorly treated in the West, and the pain and fear that comes with being separated from your child to raise someone else’s. It calls out racism, and colourism in wages and employment opportunities, and it absolutely raises questions about who gets to walk in the world with entitlement and privilege, even in less than ideal circumstances. I understand the use of Reagan (the white “premium” surrogate) as a foil, but I wish that this book could have been more racialized, with Reagan as much less of a character, and some of the other Filipina and Black women taking a more prominent role. What was it to be a surrogate and Black? I think there was lots of space to explore intersectionality within ethnicity that was hardly touched on. I also struggled sometimes with how Jane was characterized as so passive and so obedient, and I wonder if this began to skirt stereotype. I think that the biggest mystery was one that a reader could guess (I did), but that didn’t matter, because to me that’s not what the book was about. This was an exploration of love and building a life through inequity with no easy answers. An ambitious must-read. Thanks Net Galley for the ARC, opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Mary  Carrasco.
62 reviews222 followers
June 13, 2019
A promising idea that failed to live up to it's full potential.
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