Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree
An unexpectedly inspiring look at the difficulties of parenting children who are different.
There may be no perfect time for a parent to listen to Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree — any number of terrifying challenges can arise in a child’s life, regardless of age. But listening while a child is in utero, when expectant parents’ emotions and fears are running high, is especially scary. This isn’t to say that Solomon’s exhaustive but engaging book is meant to frighten. Certainly, its tales of children who are significantly different from their parents — children who suffer from autism, schizophrenia or multiple severe disabilities — can be frightening, heartbreaking and disturbing, but Solomon’s stories of the parents who love them are truly optimistic.
For the few incidences of parents who give up on or fail their children, there are many more who surprise themselves with their capacity to love — including Solomon himself, who became a father over the course of writing the book. The book is an enlightening look at parental hardship, community and endurance, and the hopeful decision to turn illness into identity. While it may alarm, overall this tome inspires and will lead parents and children alike to count their blessings.