Today’s friend is Brandee from Unconventional Bookworms. I’ve loved getting to know her through books and this wonderful community. We sort of met in passing at the RT Convention in Atlanta, May 2016, since I spent all my time with Melanie and they roomed together. I look forward to getting to know her better at Book Bonanza this August in Dallas. She was kind enough to do this review, even though she was at RARE Paris last weekend.
Far from the Tree by Robin Benway
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by HarperAudio on December 5, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 8 hours, 54 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble
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.
Far From the Tree was an incredibly thoughtful, thought-provoking, gripping, and emotional read. Benway crafted such a genuine story with engaging characters. And Julia Whelan did an excellent job with the narration. Both Benway and Whelan were new-to-me and I was, obviously, impressed.
The story is told from three POVs: Grace, Maya, and Joaquin. We’re initially introduced to Grace. She’s 16 and has recently had a baby that she gave up for adoption. Having been adopted herself, this experience leads Grace to wanting to find her birth mother. This, in turn, leads to her meeting Maya and Joaquin, her biological siblings. Maya was adopted into a family that later had a biological daughter. Joaquin has spent his life in the foster system, although he’s currently in a loving and supportive home.
Getting to know these 3, as they get to know each other, was fascinating. The similarities they have, thanks to biology, the differences they have due to their circumstances, were interesting to see and made me think. A LOT. I appreciated how Benway allowed us to get to know them, revealing things little by little. My heart broke for each of them in small ways because they each were dealing with the typical teen struggles with belonging and then they all had these additional elements added into the mix. And they each had preconceived notions about each other based on the perception of how they’d been raised. As I said, it was fascinating. And thought-provoking. And so very emotional. (you’ll need tissues!)
Far From the Tree was an amazing read. (Thanks, Diana!) I’ll be on the lookout for more from Benway and Whelan.
Whelan’s range for male voices was lacking at times but otherwise, she ROCKED. Her delivery was wonderful, the pace was excellent, and she did a great job of keeping the female voices consistent.
Listen to a clip: