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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and absorbing read
Extraordinary study of parenthood drawing on over 500 interviews with parents of children with differences/disabilities ranging from dwarfism to autism and transgender. There's even an interesting foray into parenting child musical prodigies. Throughout, Solomon reflects on his own position as a gay father and how the experience of meeting people who'd had children in the...
Published 21 months ago by happyexpat

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1.0 out of 5 stars It is a great pity that this book will go popularise the idea ...
I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately these were not realised. The author proclaims that he is trying to increase understanding - however, I am afraid that he is perpetuating stereotypes. I first read the chapter on autism, as that is a special interest of mine. I was horrified to find it filled with inaccuracies. This may be because he interviewed parents and...
Published 1 day ago by A Swanepoel


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and absorbing read, 11 Mar 2013
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Extraordinary study of parenthood drawing on over 500 interviews with parents of children with differences/disabilities ranging from dwarfism to autism and transgender. There's even an interesting foray into parenting child musical prodigies. Throughout, Solomon reflects on his own position as a gay father and how the experience of meeting people who'd had children in the hardest of circumstances still managed to value and love their kids regardless of the hardship. This is a very long read so requires time and commitment but is well worth it in the end.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, Informative and Moving..., 30 May 2013
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One of the 'professional' reviewers on the jacket blurb states that reading this book will make you a more enlightened human being - I could not agree more. I originally bought it because of the chapter on crime - criminal/forensic psychology has been a passion of mine since I studied it at university (before that, actually), and so I was mainly interested in this chapter; how many times when a terrible crime is committed is there an outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims and their families (rightly so) while the perpetrators family and their suffering is largely neglected? But right from the very first chapter this book is gripping; the breadth of Andrew Solomon's research is phenomenal and the different topics are all handled with great sensitivity. It's one of the most profoundly moving things I've ever read and, whilst it may appear to be a 'textbook' in its subject matter, it's written as eloquently and easily as a bestselling novel. I now look at the world in general - and the troubled kids I work with specifically - in a whole new light. It's absolutely wonderful.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, 9 Jan 2013
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A total tour de force - an incredible amount of work has gone into it; hours and hours seem to have spent with each family portrayed in the book. And very detailed discussions of each topic, clearly identifying the nuances and the different ways of looking at the relevant problem. A must-buy for those dealing with children's issues.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, riveting, 30 Jun 2013
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I must admit the size of this book is rather off-putting. It also seemed to cut off the circulation to my legs when I started. But I soon forgot these discomforts because it is FASCINATING. I don't have children. I'm not pregnant. But the attention to detail that had gone into the research of this book, the way each family and their challenges were introduced made it fascinating. It is funny, tragic, heart-breaking, affirming and thought-provoking all in one read. It is one of the best non-fiction books I've read in years. You could sense that this wasn't a casual project, years had been devoted and care had gone into the families he worked with to produce this. It is also a real talent to write about such an emotive subject in the entirely non-judgemental style he managed to do so- I came out of each chapter aware of the controversies around the topics (cochlear implants vs deaf culture, early transition and puberty blockers versus waiting in transgender children) feeling aware of the pros and cons but not having been guided to the "right" answer by the author- because there isn't one.

So why 4 stars not 5? Mostly because of one chapter- Prodigies. It was such a horrible misjudgement it almost derailed the book for me. Especially wedged between children with multiple severe disabilities and children of rape. To go from "oh it's so hard to raise a child who loves playing the piano" to the story of a mother dying of HIV pondering whether it is better for her HIV-positive child of rape to pre-decease her or not seemed ridiculous and cruel. Recommend skipping that chapter and focusing on the rest.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book, 4 May 2013
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There is a point in the book where Solomon talks about a famous short prose piece (on going to the Netherlands instead of Italy as allegory for having a disabled child) that everyone with a disabled child is emailed at least once by a friend. This book should become the new version of that: the gift that all of us with "different" children - of any kind - is given by those who love us. It's long, but truly, he writes so well that you will not find it easy to put down. A revelation about so many worlds, and the proof of our unacknowledged biases is that we didn't know more of it before...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perspectives, 28 April 2013
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This is a great read: well written and something I haven't considered in years ... When you're a teenager you might have thought your parents weren't really your own and you were somehow adopted. Or in my case, I was convinced my "real" parents were aliens who lived "somewhere" in the stars. This book looks at the same issue, but from a parent's perspective: that dissonance between parents and child. With much humanity, compassion and depth. From parent's of children who are deaf, autistic, gay or even those who turn to crime, the book explores the dilemmas, adjustments and frictions that arise. Ultimately, you realise that if you're ever going to be a parent, don't expect a carbon copy of yourself - but don't bemoan the fact. Difference can be life enhancing :) Awesome book :)
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1.0 out of 5 stars It is a great pity that this book will go popularise the idea ..., 26 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Paperback)
I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately these were not realised. The author proclaims that he is trying to increase understanding - however, I am afraid that he is perpetuating stereotypes. I first read the chapter on autism, as that is a special interest of mine. I was horrified to find it filled with inaccuracies. This may be because he interviewed parents and took their stories as the truth. As a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, I strongly suspect that in many of the cases he described, the difficult behaviours were not due to autism, but rather indicative of abuse. It is a great pity that this book will go popularise the idea that these behaviours are part of the underlying autism pathology and as such abuse may continue to go undetected.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book about love and grace, 20 April 2014
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This review is from: Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Paperback)
This is a remarkable book about being or having a child who is in some way different: disabled, gay, transsexual, a killer. I read it after hearing a very moving excerpt on Radio 4, an interview with the mother of one of the Columbine killers.

This book challenged prejudices I didn’t know I had, and most importantly taught me that in the same soil where suffering, exclusion and ostracisation flourish, love and grace also grow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 24 Sep 2013
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Rating this book even though I haven't finished it - which brings me neatly to why I think its a 4 star rather than 5 star book.

There is a great deal of wisdom and compassion in this book, which is for the most part, very well written. However all too often, I found myself reading 8 or 10 pages, but feeling as if I'd only received 3 or 4 pages of substance. This is a shame, since no other book has given me such deep and compassionate insight into the lives of people with (for example) Downs and Autism.

If you are happy with a prolonged read, then you will not regret buying this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 9 April 2013
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I read a gazillion books and am no advocate. A Lifetime of learning between these pages. Well researched , well written, and really thought provoking.... An unusual piece of work
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Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon (Paperback - 6 Mar 2014)
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