Andrew Solomon never knew a time when he was not gay. He chose pink balloons over blue ones and described operas on the school bus rather than trade baseball cards. He was teased at school for being effete and ignored by children issuing party invitations. In his teens Mr Solomon began to suffer from depression. His parents, supportive and understanding, would have preferred their son to be straight and encouraged him to marry a woman and have a family. The recognition that he was gay came only when he understood that gayness was not a matter of behaviour, but of identity; and identity is learned by observing and being part of a subculture outside the family.
Based on in-depth interviews with more than 300 families, Far from the Tree is brought to life by its intimate domestic voices, many of them people who ended up falling in love with children they never knew they wanted…. The recurring themes of this book are generosity, acceptance and tolerance of children who are not what their parents originally had in mind. But Mr Solomon’s most important message is that understanding how these families came to think well of their children may give others the motive and insight to do the same.
(To read the full review, please visit The Economist website.)