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My audio series, New Family Values, an Audible Original, went live on December 6, and is now available for streaming and download here (for free to Audible and Amazon Prime members). It’s a close-up look at the diverse ways we experience family, and at how richly people are inventing the concept to suit their circumstances. It’s a window onto gay families, multi-parent families, child-free families, and the practices of adoption, surrogacy, single parenthood, polyamory, and foster care. It both celebrates innovation and investigates the particular challenges that unconventional and emerging forms of domesticity present. Although it is being marketed as an audiobook, although it is part of my ongoing investigation of family, and although it offers a kind of sneak preview of my next book, it is not a book read aloud, but rather a collection of voices, mine orchestrating the many.
Here you will find an embrace of expansiveness at a time when many people in power seem to be focused unrelentingly on contraction. Allowing people more latitude in deciding what makes a family runs parallel to allowing them to determine what makes a person. It enables the blossoming of respect for all people, regardless of the manner in which their families were formed. I do not accept a government that denies the identity of trans people and excludes them from public service, nor one that silences, attacks, and even condones the murder of journalists; nor one that separates parents and children as a means to discourage immigration. I do not believe that religious liberty can be rightly used to veil prejudice. All of these aberrations hew to narrow definitions of humanity, and consider some people more deserving than others. My series pursues the opposite.
New Family Values continues the examination of family life begun in Far From the Tree. In that book, I argued there are an almost infinite number of ways to be a happy family, and an equal number of ways to be an unhappy one. It is by exploring the vast range of such experiences that we are liberated. My audio series aims to expand the conversation about what, exactly, qualifies as a family, to encourage compassion for and appreciation of families that often find themselves undeservedly and even cruelly marginalized.
I'm also pleased to announce that the documentary Far From the Tree is now available for streaming from IFC Films, Amazon Prime (U.S.), Amazon Prime (U.K.), Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, andYouTube, and that it will have its Hulu debut on December 29.
Whatever your own family entails, may you find joy in it this holiday season.
My best always,
If You Could Add One Book to the High School Curriculum, What Would It Be?»
Obedience to Authority relates how easily adults abdicate responsibility, and illuminates the horror that ensues when we placidly do as we are told.
My Stories Become Someone Else’s: Adapting a Book to Film»
Books require that people recount their emotions; documentaries require that people bare the same emotions in front of a film crew.
Boston Globe Praises Far From the Tree»
Anecdotal rather than clinical, more interested in lives than in statistics, Far From the Tree is an experience that, at its best, humbles a viewer into contemplating everything we don’t yet know but some day may.
Washington Post: This documentary about families will make you cry — for all the right reasons»
Far From the Tree … offers inspiring glimpses of the breakthroughs that can happen when people hang in long enough to come to terms with life’s most sobering realities, be they anatomical or emotional. And it provides welcome ways to reframe notions of normality that are too often conflated with “average.”
Los Angeles Times: Far From the Tree movingly captures the highs and lows of parenting kids who are different»
This is a powerful movie about human nature and how no matter where we end up — and who we end up with — we wake up each day and adjust.
The Atlantic: The Private Worlds of Parents Raising Children Radically Different From Themselves»
The documentary Far From the Tree argues against holding parents responsible for their kids’ cognitive or mental-health struggles.
Vulture: Far From the Tree is a marvelous, empathetic doc about kids not like their parents»
This is not, in the end, his story but a tapestry with disparate threads — some complementary, some very much not.
WNYC Documentary of the Week: Far From the Tree»
We come away from the film with deeper understanding of how to make peace with our own differences across generations.
The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #146: Andrew Solomon»
“I wanted to look honestly at how dangerous it can be to have children, at how many ways they can create anguish for you. And at how you go on loving them nonetheless.”
NPR Weekend Edition: Finding Happiness In Far From the Tree»
“What you now perceive as an illness may at another stage of your life come to function as an identity … A lot of what seems to go wrong in your life may ultimately help to construct you into a person you will be happy to be.”
ABC News: Far From the Tree takes a deep look at challenges families face»
“Every family has occasionally looked at a kid and said, ‘What planet did you come from?’ So it’s really a film about how do you love someone who isn’t what you imagined ahead of time?”
CBS Evening News: Far From the Tree follows families facing extraordinary challenges»
“Jack Allnutt, the autistic boy, wonderfully types toward the end, "I had a good day because I was with my tribe," describing his experience with a bunch of other autistic kids. … We all need to find our tribe.”
New York Public Library: Andrew Solomon and Rachel Dretzin Far From the Tree Q&A»
“Dehumanizing anyone is not only a terrible cruelty … but also represents a great loss to the people who are doing it, who live in a smaller, narrower, more fortified, walled world than the one in which this movie is set.”
People: Stars of Far From the Tree on living with dwarfism and raising average-sized kids»
“We were both raised with high expectations that we could and should live a decent life, just like anyone else.”
Asahi Shimbun: What is difference? Japanese students react to Far From the Tree»
Japanese students ask questions and give their take on the new documentary, “Far From the Tree,” recently released in Japan.
Cleveland RTA Red Line Art Project Features Work Inspired by Andrew Solomon»
Works by 25 Northeast Ohio artists have been installed on 25 Red Line train cars, including illustrator Julia Kuo’s take on a quote by Andrew Solomon.
Andrew Solomon Supports Odyssey»
Odyssey is a collaborative sculpture made by Marc Quinn and more than 5,000 people, half of whom are refugees, and the other half non-refugees; all are given the opportunity to share their story on video.
The S Word: Talk About It»
In this 3-part conversation, author Andrew Solomon and psychologists Dr. Thomas Joiner and Dr. Kita Curry posit that talking about suicide reduces the fear surrounding getting help and moving forward.
Writers Read from “Testament” by Oleg Sentsov»
On the occasion of his 42nd birthday, and to mark his continued incarceration and ongoing hunger strike, writers from around the world read excerpts from Oleg Sentsov’s “Testament.”