Monday, December 3, 2012

Day 3: Far from the Tree

Welcome to Day 3 in our 24 Days of Books. We had originally intended to discuss this book -- Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon -- under the heading “Nonfiction Sleepers.” It certainly qualified: a well-researched social commentary, an excellent read, and a thoroughly under-appreciated book. However, Solomon’s book was just named one of the top five nonfiction books of 2012 by the New York Times, so it is officially no longer “asleep.” 

The book  is simply amazing. The author set about to document the lives of families with one or more “exceptional children.”  In this book, “exceptional” includes any individual affected by a spectrum of physical, mental, social, and psychological differences -- deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, children who are prodigies, or who become criminals, or who are transgendered, or many other differences.  After interviewing more than three hundred families, many of them multiple times, over a ten-year period, Solomon came to a profound appreciation for these children and their families. He found that many families grow closer through caring for a challenging child and that most discover supportive communities of others similarly affected. His proposition is that it is in fact diversity that unites us all.

The book will hold great appeal for any parents who have ever looked at their child and thought, “Where did this come from?" Social workers, psychologists, pastors, educators, corrections officers, nonprofit managers, or political policy makers can also benefit from this book’s careful documentation of the meaning of family when one or more children present special challenges. The author has had his own struggles with being “different and weaves his personal story into the narrative to give readers an even deeper appreciation for families in our culture where “different” is the reality.  

Andrew Solomon's book Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the 2001 National Book Award. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell University and Special Adviser on LGBT Affairs to Yale University's Department of Psychiatry. Far from the Tree -- almost a thousand pages long -- is available in hardcover for $37.50 and is published by the Scribner imprint of Simon & Schuster.

As always, you'll find many more great gift ideas in our Holiday Books guide, available at our store. See you soon!   

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.