Far From the Tree

Robin Benway

Far From the Tree
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Far From the Tree

Robin Benway

Winner of the U.S. National Book Award 2017 for Young People’s Literature.

‘Sometimes, family hurts each other. But after that’s done you bandage each other up, and you move on. Together. So you can go and think that you’re some lone wolf, but you’re not. You’ve got us now, like it or not, and we’ve got you.’

When 16 year-old Grace gives up her baby for adoption, she decides that the time has come to find out more about her own biological mother. Although her biological mum proves elusive, her search leads her to two half-siblings she never knew existed.

Maya, 15, has been adopted by wealthy parents and seems to have the picture-perfect family - that is, if you look past her alcoholic mother and the fact that Maya stands out like a sore thumb.

Older brother Joaquin hasn’t been so lucky. At 18, he’s shuffled between foster home after foster home, always careful never to get attached to anyone or anything, because it always gets taken away.

When these three siblings come together, they find in themselves the place they can belong, while the secrets they guard threaten to explode…

For fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and Nicola Yoon, Far From the Tree is a raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting story of what it means to be family.

Review

This award-winning American novel is an absolute gem; a heart-warming story of family and friendship, as well as an interesting reflection on nature vs. nurture. Sixteen-year- old Grace was adopted into a loving and protective family at birth. But when she gets pregnant and has to give away her own newborn baby for adoption, she suddenly feels devastated and alone, and can’t help wondering if this is how her birth mother felt. She decides to track her down but instead discovers that she has two siblings. She first meets her younger sister, Maya, who is the only dark skinned one in her wealthy adopted family of redheads; and then Joaquin, who has been in and out of foster care all his life and badly wounded by his experiences.

The siblings discover they have much in common with each other, as well as significant differences due to their own life experiences. Chapters cycle through each of their perspectives and the reader is rapidly engrossed in their lives and their slow unveiling of themselves to one another. But the reader also comes to discover that each of them is hiding secrets from the others that they are deeply ashamed of and are terrified to reveal.

These are wonderful, complicated, real characters who you cannot help feeling empathy and compassion for, who come from diverse, complicated families. Winner of the National Book Award in the US, this is a brilliant story of family and genetics that is not to be missed and readers aged twelve to adult will thoroughly enjoy.


Angela Crocombe is the shop manager at Readings Kids.

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