Reviewed by Catherine Ames ~ WATG Board Member
Occasionally, I have the wonderful pleasure of finding a book that is genuinely un--put-down-able, a riveting page turner that strikes close to home on many levels, unearthing a treasure trove of emotions. After having recently limped through a few “bummer” books that were suggested reading for our Young Adult book club, I picked up Far From The Tree, read the back cover, the author’s note, and I was in ~ hook, line and sinker.
This realistic-fiction piece weaves a tale of the lives of three biological siblings who were given up for adoption by their birth mother and reared in three uniquely different situations. Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, adores her parents and has a healthy relationship with them, even when the unthinkable happens. Maya is a brash, dark-skinned teen living in a sea of related gingers, including her peppy little sister, Lauren. Joaquin desperately wants to find himself and be found, chosen, accepted, loved unconditionally, yet he fears all of the aforementioned and struggles with personal relationships and affection. Early in the novel, Grace discovers that she has a biological family and goes searching for Joaquin and Maya who nervously agree to meet, and the rest of the story unfolds with twists and turns and the lifelike commotion that befalls teens.
A poignant story of three teenagers whose lives converge, whose struggles are real, whose secrets seem too big to reveal, this book is eerily accurate, and I found myself reflecting on my own children’s high school experiences, and my husband’s journey, and the choices he and his adopted brother and sister have made along the way. Each memoir is laden with personal decisions and raw emotion surrounding teen pregnancy, adoption and foster care. I laughed, I cried, I pondered and cogitated. And I chalked it up as one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long time.
“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.”
“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.”
“That’s what parents do. They catch you before you fall. That’s what family is.”
“She got in line behind a woman who was paying with a check. A check. Grace wondered if the woman’s cart and oxen were double-parked outside.”