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Nonfiction: Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon

by Ann Bauer

Let us first discuss size. At 962 pages — including more than 200 pages of citations — Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree is a mammoth commitment. (Also, in this petite reviewer’s experience, a handy booster seat for low chairs.)

Far From the Tree, subtitled Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, is a lyrical ethnography based on this simple premise: It is a struggle to raise a child who is created not in your image but as something starkly different and strange.

Far From the Tree is precisely not about validating one’s own experience. Read from beginning to end, this is a raucous, joyful tribute that exalts all parents who love their alien offspring with molten force… Ultimately, this is the truth that Solomon uncovers: Despite the undeniable value and beauty, none of us desires the exception. The children who fall farthest from the tree also weigh most heavily on our hearts.

(To read the full review, please visit the Star Tribune website.)