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Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

by Jane Shilling

All children are different, but some are more different than others. The majority of expectant parents spend the nine months of gestation buoyed by the conviction that their child, when it is born, will be the most remarkable infant in human history.

Most will find their belief vindicated – more or less. To dispassionate onlookers, the newborn infant may resemble a howling orange in a black fright wig, but to parents euphoric after the dangerous adventure of childbirth, the fact that their offspring displays all the vital signs of normality is enough to make it seem miraculous.

For a significant minority, however, the experience of bringing a child into the world is not one of triumphant relief but the beginning of a recalibration of expectations that may last for the lifetime of the parents, or the child. “Parenthood abruptly catapults us into a permanent relationship with a stranger,” writes Andrew Solomon, “and the more alien the stranger, the stronger the whiff of negativity… Loving our own children is an exercise for the imagination.”

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