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. In Solomon’s telling, these stories are everyone’s stories.
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 and innumerable triumphs of love. 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.
Voices from the Book
On autism and disability: Bill and Chris Davis
On deafness: Jackie Roth
On Down Syndrome: Deirdre Featherstone and Catherine Madden
On dwarfism: Clinton Brown III
On schizophrenia: Susan Weinreich
On being transgender: Kim Reed
On being a prodigy: Nico Muhly
Andrew Solomon on the subjects and themes of Far from the Tree
Dutch: Ver van de Boom: Als je Kind Anders Is
Translators: Chiel van Soelen, Pieter van der Veen, Jos den Bekker, Graa Boomsma. Amsterdam: Nieuw Amsterdam, October 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Volkskrant Boeken | NRC Handelsblad | De Groene Amsterdammer | Psychologies
German: Weit vom Stamm: Wenn Kinder Ganz Anders als ihre Eltern Sind
Translators: Henning Dedekind, Antoinette Gittinge, Enrico Heinemann, Ursula Held. Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch, 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Der Spiegel | Gehirn und Geist | Nido | Die Zeit | Der Tagesspiegel
Italian: Lontano dall’Albero. Storie di Genitori e Figli che Hanno Imparato ad Amarsi
Translator: Massimo Parizzi. Milan: Mondadori, 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Marie Claire
Norwegian: Langt Fra Stammen: Foreldre, Barn Og Jakten På Identitet
Translators: Hege Mehren, Lene Stokseth, Merete Nilssen. Oslo: Forlaget, 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Aftenposten | Tidsskrift for Den norske legeforening
Portuguese (Brazilian): Longe Da Árvore: Pais, Filhos e a Busca Da Identidade
Translators: Pedro Maia Soares e Donaldson M. Garschagen e Luiz A. de Araújo. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Revista Cult | Folha de São Paulo | Estadão de Sao Paulo
Romanian: Departe de Trunchi: Douasprezece Feluri de Dragoste. Parinti, Copii si Cautarea Identitatii
Translator: Ioana Miruna Voiculescu. Bucharest: Humanitas, 2015.
Reviews & Interviews: Press One | Adevarul
Spanish: Lejos del Árbol: Historias de Padres e Hijos que Han Aprendido a Quererse
Translators: Joaquin Chamorro Mielke y Sergio Lledó Rando. Madrid: Debate, 2014.
Reviews & Interviews: El Pais | El Periódico | El Cultural | El Mundo
Awards & Booklists
National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction (2012)
J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize (Columbia School of Journalism) (2013)
Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction (2013)
Dayton Literary Peace Prize (2013)
Books for a Better Life Award (National Multiple Sclerosis Society) (2013)
Green Carnation Prize (2013)
Media for a Just Society Distinguished Achievement Award in Nonfiction (National Council on Crime and Delinquency) (2013)
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction (2013)
Wellcome Book Prize (2014)
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012
Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012
Boston Globe Best Books of 2012
San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Books of 2012
Salon What to Read Awards: Top Ten Books of 2012
Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction of 2012
TIME Top Ten Nonfiction Books of 2012
Amazon.com Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2012
The Economist Best Books of 2012
Cleveland Plain-Dealer Best Nonfiction of 2012
The Observer 2013 Books of the Year