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Far from the Tree based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
In all honesty, if I had just read the synopsis on this book, I probably never would have picked it up. It’s just not my normal cup of tea. But I had come across a sample of the first chapter it in a booklet I had gotten at an event somewhere (I think the BN B-Fest), and that sample alone just wouldn’t get out of my head. So when it came time for my reading mood to go “man, I need a contemporary”, I thought that this one should be it. For this review I am going to split it up into two viewpoints: a critical one and a personal one, because that’s the only way I think I can do it. Critical: In short, this book is well written. The characters are diverse and realistic, with flaws that are defiantly human and character arcs that make sense to who they are as presented from the start. The writing draws the reader in easily from the start, and retains the attention throughout without ever losing steam. In the beginning, it does feel a bit like there isn’t a lot of movement in terms of an overall storyline arc, with only one character, Grace, having a personal goal – to find her birth mother. The other two just sort of…exist for a bit until their storylines start to take shape and their personal issues grow and changes come into their lives that they have to overcome. So for a while it felt like nothing was really happening while the characters (and the reader) were just kind of getting to know one another. Which is fine, but again, I felt like I needed a little bit more, and not just the small hints that were given here and there. Personal: I just felt very little emotional connection to the characters and this book overall. This is not a statement about the quality of the book – I can certainly see a lot of people enjoying it and loving it much more than I do – I just don’t think I really connected with any of the characters. Grace’s storyline, the one that drew me to this book in the first place, was kind of the only one I ever had any really interest in, and Joaquin’s garnered some of my attention too. But Maya’s I could have cared less about. I don’t know why, it just didn’t click with me for some reason. Maybe because it was such a typical storyline I’ve seen before so often – fighting parents, alcoholic mom – that there wasn’t really anything I didn’t already expect from it to happen. So, sadly, I just didn’t find myself really caring either in a positive or negative way about this book while reading it. I felt like at any point I could have stopped and never really needed to pick it back up because I had no pressing desire to know what was going to happen next. Still, despite my semi-indifference towards this story and these characters, I will admit to getting emotional at the end (although not as emotional as these characters who really cry an awful lot), and I did think their overall character and story arcs were wonderfully done. The story, like I said, was well written (okay there were a couple of times I thought the randomly thrown in metaphors and allegories were a little overdone), moved at a decent pace, and definitely has a lot to say about the importance of family and what it means to be one. Despite the fact that I personally didn’t feel completely enthralled by this book, I would still probably end up recommending it to people depending on their taste. 3.5 stars
***REVIEW ORIGINALLY POSTED ON WHAT A NERD GIRL SAYS*** There are so many words to describe Robin’s brand new novel, which comes out tomorrow, but the first one that comes to mind is beautiful. This book is just beautiful. First off, let’s talk about family. This book is first and foremost about family, how it can come from many different places. Two girls are adopted and one is in a foster family that loves him. The three of them find each other find each other and become a family. But there’s also the family they go searching for and the friends they surrounded themselves with. Robin writes family so beautiful, especially that bond between siblings, whether its the relationship between the biological siblings of Grace, Maya and Joaquin or the relationship between Maya and her sister, Lauren. I have five younger siblings and we are all incredibly closed and I felt such a connection with the story of family in this novel. Second, I loved the discovery of self identity, especially for Maya and Joaquin. Maya is lesbian, has a girlfriend, and is sure of herself in that and I love that so much. It’s not a big deal at all and that’s amazing. I love that there’s that diversity in there and its written as if its not a big deal, because, hello, its totally not. But I also love Joaquin wanting to know more about himself, more about where he came from, what his culture is like. He wants to be Mark and Linda’s son but he doesn’t want to lose who he is at heart. I admire that so much. Third, Grace. Oh, Grace. I bonded with her story more than anything. I know what its like to be pregnant in high school, to feel rejected, to feel unsure of your decision, to feel like you’ve let people down, to feel like you’ve been abandoned. I didn’t have my baby; I unfortunately had a miscarriage. There’s a part early in the book where she is overwhelmed by the loss of her baby; she feels it in her body. It feels empty, like there’s something missing and she physically feels it and I cannot even begin to describe how close I felt to that. That was over a decade ago for me but all those feelings came rushing back at me. Overall, Robin has written an incredible novel here. I’ve always adored her and I remember reading Emmy and Oliver and thinking it was her best yet but this book blows it out of the water. She gets better and better with each book and this one definitely shows that. The story is great, and the emotions are real, and the fact that it centers on family and does such a great job at it is what makes this book a must read. It comes out tomorrow and I 100% urge everyone to get this book. I’m positive it’s my favorite of the year so far.
This was such a beautifully character driven story. It's all about who is family and what it means to be a family. I LOVED Grace, Maya, and Joaquin. All three siblings were so easy to connect to. Each one is so resilient and strong, while allowed to be emotional and upset. The family dynamics we get to see were also great - I loved that there was a wide representation of family experiences. Each character is going through such an emotional journey, that it's so easy to become invested in these characters and I loved seeing their sibling relationship develop! And while romance was very much on the backburner for the story, there was some really cute (and real) moments between Maya and her girlfriend, Claire, and Grace's budding relationship with Rafe. As a character driven reader, this was everything I could have wanted. I loved the dynamics and the development we get to see. And I was completely invested. This is a beautiful and emotional journey of family, love, and finding yourself. I received a copy of the book from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.