* * * * * * * BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week * * * * * * *
'Andrew Solomon's investigation of many of the most intense challenges that parenthood can bring compels us all to re-examine how we understand human difference. Perhaps the greatest gift of this monumental book, full of facts and full of feelings, is that it constantly makes one think, and think again.' Philip Gourevitch
In this seminal new study of family, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who learn to deal with their exceptional children and find profound meaning in doing so.
He introduces us to families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, Solomon documents repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.
'Reading Far from the Tree is a mind-opening experience.' Eric Kandel
Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices, whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery.
Parents and children are challenged to their limits, but often grow closer as a result; many discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become activists, celebrating the conditions they once feared.
Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far From The Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance and tolerance - and shows how love for one's children can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.
'A brave and ambitious work, bringing together science, culture and a powerful empathy. Solomon tells us that we have more in common with each other - even with those who seem anything but normal - than we would ever have imagined.' Malcolm Gladwell