Far From the Tree

Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Far From the Tree

Solomon’s startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or multiple severe disabilities; with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.

All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become their best selves. Drawing on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families, Solomon mines the eloquence of ordinary people facing extreme challenges.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original and compassionate thinker, Far from the Tree explores how people who love each other must struggle to accept each other—a theme in every family’s life.
  • Scribner | 
  • 976 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743236720 | 
  • October 2013

Video

Andrew Solomon discusses his audiobook FAR FROM THE TREE

“A brave, beautiful book that will expand your humanity” (People) shows what we all can learn from ordinary parents dealing with exceptional children.

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Far from the Tree includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and ideas for teachers. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Winner of a 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award, Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter. Life for the parents in this book turns on a crucial question: to what extent should they accept their children as they are, and to what extent should they help them become their best selves? When, then, is their child’s condition an illness to be cured, and when is it an identity to be celebrated?

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. In Far from the Tree, Andre see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Allison Har-zvi

My mother has a saying about being a parent: whatever you are, your kid will be the opposite. And it’s true. Every one of us feels profoundly different from our parents at some point, and every parent has wondered how their child could be so...

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About the Author

Andrew Solomon
Photo Credit: © Annie Leibovitz

Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon is a professor of psychology at Columbia University, president of PEN American Center, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, NPR, and The New York Times Magazine. A lecturer and activist, he is the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, the National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, and a novel, A Stone Boat, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times First Fiction Award. The Noonday Demon won the 2001 National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has been published in twenty-four languages. His TED talk on depression has over 4 million views. He lives with his husband and son in New York and London and is a dual national. He also has a daughter with a college friend. For more information, visit the author’s website at AndrewSolomon.com.

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