Staff Review: "Far From the Tree"
What exactly is a family? Are they your biological relatives? The people who raised you? Or are they the people you choose to surround yourself with every day?
Far From the Tree explores the idea of family in all its forms as it follows three siblings who reconnect as teenagers after being given up for adoption in infancy. There's 17 year-old Joaquin, who has bounced around numerous foster homes throughout his life, feeling unwanted and seriously lacking self-worth; Grace, a 16 year-old who just returned to school after giving birth to her own baby, whom she gave up for adoption; and 15 year-old Maya, who is grappling with her mother's alcoholism and her parents' impending divorce. Though they've only just met, the three siblings immediately form a strong connection and learn to rely on one another as they face various obstacles and life changes, including banding together to search for their birth mother.
The book won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and I can see why. Each chapter alternates between Joaquin, Grace and Maya, giving the reader a glimpse at the thoughts and perspective of each of the three protagonists. The writing feels fresh, the storylines are believable and the ending is incredibly satisfying.