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Far from the Tree : Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

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.


Official Trailer

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

The Genesis of “Far from the Tree”

Autism | Crime | Deafness | Disability | Dwarfism | Prodigies | Rape | Schizophrenia | Transgender

Activism | Belief | Breakthroughs | Fatherhood | Hope | Illness | Identity | Love | Policy | Prejudice | Science | Struggle | Transcendence



Chinese (Taiwan): 背離親緣(下):那些與眾不同的孩子,他們的父母,以及他們尋找身分認同的故事
Translator: 簡萓靚 / Jane Yi Liang. Taipei: 大家出版社 / Everyone Press, 2015.
Reviews & Interviews: China Times | RTHK Radio | Ming Weekly

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
Trailer with German captions | Excerpt (PDF)

Hungarian: Alma a fájától – Különleges igényű gyerekek
Fordította/Translators: Abody Rita, Kelemen László.
Budapest: Libri Könyvkiadó, 2017.

Italian: Lontano dall’Albero. Storie di Genitori e Figli che Hanno Imparato ad Amarsi
Translator: Massimo Parizzi. Milan: Mondadori, 2013.
Reviews & Interviews: Marie Claire
Trailer with Italian captions

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
Excerpt (PDF)

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
Trailer with Brazilian Portuguese captions | Excerpt (PDF)

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
Excerpt (PDF)

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
Trailer with Spanish captions | Excerpt (PDF)

Turkish: Armut Dibine Düşmeyince: Anne Babalar Çocuklar ve Kimlik Arayışı
Translator: Nurettin Elhüseyni. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, June 2016.


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 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



Full text of the footnotes to Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, with links to sources.