Far From the Tree
By Robin Benway
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Adoption/Foster Teens
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Grace is a sixteen year old adoptee who has just given birth. Maya is a fifteen year old adoptee whose parents are constantly fighting. Joaquin is a seventeen year old foster teen who has lived in several foster homes. Grace, Maya, and Joaquin share a mother and are about to meet for the first time.
Far From the Tree is a National Book Award Short List Nominee so I really wanted to read it. NBA nominees are often some of the best books of the year and will most likely get a Printz nod but this book…
This book covers the topic of adoption/foster teens which is great because these teens are underserved. With the exception of the topic, there is nothing special about this book. Far From the Tree was just okay as far as character development. None of the three teens had a new voice. There was the preverbal good girl who gets pregnant and is now slut shamed and the slut shaming was the same slut shaming you see in most books. Slut shaming is still a fairly new theme that NEEDS to desperately be explored but Tree didn’t add anything new to this. Maya is annoying and angry-nothing new to see here. Joaquin could have been interesting because his father is Mexican while his sisters are white. But once again, Joaquin faces the same racist comments that we’ve seen in other books.
The pacing was incredibly fast which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for a book about adopted teens meeting for the first time, there was not much insight or depth. Then there was this word that kept coming up, tethered. I know Benway was trying to use this word to connect the characters and it was probably supposed to be profound but it came across as forced.
In the hands of a better writer, this book could have been great but it’s just okay and I don’t understand how it made the short list. I’ve read 3/5 books on the NBA short list and none of them were good. Long Way Down and The Hate U Give were leaps and bounds better and I don’t understand the committee’s logic.