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Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

From the National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression comes a monumental new work, a decade in the writing, about family. In Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on forty thousand pages of interview transcripts with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges. Whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery for transgender people, Solomon narrates a universal struggle toward compassion. Many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child; most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become advocates and activists, celebrating the very conditions they once feared. Woven into their courageous and affirming stories is Solomon’s journey to accepting his own identity, which culminated in his midlife decision, influenced by this research, to become a parent.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far from the Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance, and tolerance—all rooted in the insight that love can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.

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  • Liz B

    Thanks everyone for coming, great book!

    June 12, 2014

  • Liz B

    We are in conference room c

    June 11, 2014

  • Marianne

    Sorry, can't make it afterall. Too much running around to do getting ready for summer trip. I am reading the book, though. Very interesting book!

    June 10, 2014

  • Liz B

    Hi guys, looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow. Please come even if you have not had a chance to finish the book. I honestly haven't finished it yet myself, it is a long one. Luckily Brittani has finished it and she will be co-hosting. :)

    June 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Very excited to read this!--I am continuing my education in Psychology soon, so thank you to whoever suggested this book. It sounds very interesting.

    March 16, 2014

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