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Kids Who Are ‘Different’

by Mark Stoeltje

You know that strange mixture of pity and compassion you feel when you see parents wheeling their severely disabled child through the mall?

Save it. In Far From the Tree, the brilliant writer and thinker Andrew Solomon may shatter your notions about disability, parenthood and the mystery of human compassion.

Solomon, winner of the National Book Award for his memoir The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, has produced an exhaustive, beautiful and important book about families raising children with “horizontal identities” — traits they don’t share with their parents.

…In Far From the Tree, Solomon has created a timeless commentary on the complexity, and the very definition, of disability and on the mystical bond between parents and their children, especially those who are “different.”

As he observes, “Parents need not merely love their children despite their defects but may find the surprising rightness in those imperfections.”

This is the message of Far From the Tree, and a beautiful message it is.