Far From the Tree Book Review – Robin Benway
Robin Benway is a National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of six novels for young adults, including Audrey, Wait!, the AKA series, and Emmy & Oliver. Her books have received numerous awards and recognition, including a 2008 Blue Ribbon Award from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, 2009’s ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and 2014’s ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. In addition, her novels have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and have been published in more than twenty countries. Her most recent title, Emmy & Oliver, was published in 2015 by Harper Teen, and was named one of the best books of summer by the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, and Publishers Weekly. Her newest book, Far From the Tree, won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and was published by Harper Teen on October 3, 2017.
Robin grew up in Orange County, California, attended NYU, where she was the 1997 recipient of the Seth Barkas Prize for Creative Writing, and is a graduate of UCLA. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her time hanging out with her dog, Hudson, making coffee, and procrastinating on writing.
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.
Don’t miss this moving novel that addresses such important topics as adoption, teen pregnancy, and foster care.
Grace,16, becomes pregnant, and must make the most difficult decisions in her life. She gives her baby up for adoption and that is the life she lives. After giving up her baby she feels empty and that motivates her to search for her bio Mom. Grace soon learns she has siblings Maya and Joaquin. Maya agrees to meet Grace after she gets an email. Maya and Grace connects immediately. Maya has a younger sister who she resents. She’s the odd ball because everyone has red hair and she doesn’t and looks like she doesn’t belong to her adopted family. Joaquin struggles with feelings of insecurities because he was left in foster care by their bio Mom. He has went through several foster homes and is struggling to live his life.
The story is written in third person perspective and is very straightforward. The cover is very simple with difficult colored leaves on it. The title caught my attention. After reading the story, I got why the author titled this book Far from the Tree. The dialogue between the characters were well developed, real, and relatable. In some scenes, I felt I was right in the room with them. The dialogue kept me on my toes and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This novel that was fast paced novel about families that were born and made. The story was compassionate, moving, serious, and heartwarming. This story had humor and depth that I just couldn’t put it down.
I love how the siblings and their families had come together and bonded like they did. I love all the characters in the story. I felt the love, connection, and bond they had for one another. This book had me on an emotional roller coaster. The heartache that some of the characters went through made me hurt also. This book was full of love and hope. This book talked about family, violence, self identity, teen pregnancy, race, adoption, depression, and alcoholism. Some of these topics are for the more mature audiences. The characters had their own unique voices in the story. The characters are likable and I watched how they changed and grew over the course of the story. The characters development was well developed and on point. I could relate to the characters because they were believable and unpredictable. This book was well written and I will be reading more by this author. I recommend this book to young teens and more mature audiences. I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.