Monday, June 23, 2014

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity - Andrew Solomon

I finished reading this book over six months ago, but have put off writing my review of it because it's one of those books I simply cannot convey the importance of through my own writing.  In this non-fiction tome about parents and children, Solomon explores several different categories of exceptional children, from dwarves to prodigies to the deaf to autistic and many more, Solomon questions how much parents should simply accept versus how much a parent should do to understand.  Each chapter of the book is dedicated to a different group, so while the 800+ page volume of the book might be intimidating, I would recommend everyone pick it up and at least read the one chapter that seems most relevant in your life.  In addition to being almost a guide to parenting, I felt the book advocated the idea of community - each of these categories of people were exceptional in their own way, but for the most part wholly different from their parents (but not always.  For example, there were dwarves whose children were also dwarves, deaf parents with deaf children), such that their parents could never truly understand what it meant to be in their children's shoes.  And in these cases, I thought the idea of finding community for those children became so important, as well as finding community for those parents (among other parents with the same kinds of children).  This book was monumentally educational for me with respect to groups I knew absolutely nothing about, and I felt incredibly fair regarding the groups that I do have some experience with.  It also provides so much insight into both the children and the parents in these various groups, I feel it is an important work for helping to increase awareness and empathy.  Again, I can't write a review to do this book justice, but there is a website about the book that is powerful in its own way and provides additional background:

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