STARRED REVIEW
October 07, 2017

No one-size-fits-all family

By Virginia DeBerry Grant
Review by

Being adopted has never been an issue for 16-year-old Grace. But when she becomes pregnant, gives birth on the same night her ex-boyfriend is crowned homecoming king, and then gives up the baby for adoption, Grace decides to find her own birth mother. What she finds instead in Robin Benway’s National Book Award finalist, Far from the Tree, are a younger sister, Maya, who’s also adopted, and an older brother, Joaquin, who’s spent his whole life in and out of foster care homes.

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Being adopted has never been an issue for 16-year-old Grace. But when she becomes pregnant, gives birth on the same night her ex-boyfriend is crowned homecoming king, and then gives up the baby for adoption, Grace decides to find her own birth mother. What she finds instead in Robin Benway’s National Book Award finalist, Far from the Tree, are a younger sister, Maya, who’s also adopted, and an older brother, Joaquin, who’s spent his whole life in and out of foster care homes.

Alternating chapters from the siblings’ different perspectives reveal their painfully realistic ups and downs. Grace is reluctant to talk about her baby (who has left a painful void) and the way her classmates now taunt her. Maya is open about being gay, but she’s not sure how to handle her adoptive mother’s alcoholism or if she’s less of a family member compared to Lauren, her adoptive parents’ biological child. And having never experienced the stability of a family, Joaquin can’t explain why he’s hesitant to let his current, loving foster parents adopt him.

As these three siblings connect, they also form even stronger relationships with their loved ones at home and create a larger circle to call family. Their sophisticated stories show that while there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to family, all families can be messy, complicated—and fiercely devoted. Readers will find themselves crying and cheering along with these resilient teens.

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Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree

By Virginia DeBerry Grant
St. Martin's
ISBN 9780312202910

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