Book Review: Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Contemporary

High school hasn't gone the way Grace planned. She never expected one of the star athletes to fall for her nor did she expect to end up pregnant with his child before her Junior year ended, but life has a way of keeping us on our toes. Grace's life crumbles after finding out she's pregnant. She never hesitates though - she knows that she must put the baby up for adoption. As much as she loves the child growing within her, she doesn't feel it would be fair to keep the baby when Grace can't provide a stable home. She isn't ready for the life of a single mom when she hasn't finished school and has no job prospects. She spends hours pouring over information about potential parents trying to choose the best possible mom and dad for her little girl. 

While she is struggling with these choices, her ex-boyfriend is dating a "good" girl and preparing for the homecoming dance. In those moments when Grace was suffering and overwhelmed, I despised Max and his parents. They tried to place all the blame for the pregnancy on Grace when it truly takes two. Max was able to go on with his life with no repercussions while Grace was forced to endure rude comments, bullying, and unfair treatment. Why do we have this double standard? Why is teen pregnancy so often seen as the problem of the mother?

Grace's experience makes her crave a chance to find her own birth mother. Her parents have never made it a secret that she was adopted. They have always told her that when she was ready (if that day came) they would help her find answers to her questions. Grace gets far more than she bargained for when she learns that has an older brother, Joaquin, and a younger sister, Maya. She decides she needs to make contact with both of her siblings. In the beginning, for Grace, this is a way of finding redemption after making the choice to give her daughter up. She wants to know that her birth mother gave her up for good reasons in spite of loving her and wanting to keep her. She hopes her siblings feel the same.

While Grace has been raised as an only child, her biological siblings have had different upbringings. Joaquin has been in foster care since the age of one. He feels like an abandoned sailboat left to the mercy of the waves. He has bounced from home to home and hasn't truly found where he belongs, but thinks it may be with his current foster parents, who truly seem to care about him. He is just as surprised as Grace to learn that he has biological siblings. Maya, on the other hand, appears to have a charmed life with her well off parents and younger sister, but she has her own share of demons lurking in the corners. She also isn't sure how to handle having biological siblings, but she doesn't cut their biological mom any slack. She firmly believes that there is no good reason for putting your kids up for adoption. Her staunch stance on the issue will cause a rift between her and Grace until things come to light. The siblings spend the novel learning what it means to be family and trying to decide if they want to look for their mother.

The notion of family is an important concept in this novel. What truly makes a family? Is it biology? Is it love? Can your friends become your family? I think pondering this notion is intriguing and provides a theme that will resonate with young adult and adult readers alike.

One Last Gripe: As mentioned in the review, I was frustrated by Max and his parents' response to Grace's pregnancy.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The nature imagery that was scattered throughout the novel

First Sentence: Grace wasn't one of those girls who was always fantasizing about homecoming.

Favorite Character: Grace

Least Favorite Character: Max's Dad

A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.


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