Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity is a vast treatise looking at various categories of seemingly mismatched parents and children , with the interesting insight that it’s challenging to raise (I refuse to say parent) a child who is different from oneself. So we read about deaf children of hearing parents, dwarf children of normal-height parents, and Down Syndrome children of non-Down parents, and it all makes sense. But then we move to prodigies, who are certainly different but don’t seem to suffer from any specific disabilities. I’m sure it’s challenging to raise a genius, but it seems an uncomfortably large stretch to compare it with the other experiences in the book. And children of rape seem not to be different at all to me, although the mother’s experience certainly is. It seems that the author could not help pushing his thesis just a little too far.
My other uneasiness was that many of the parents interviewed for the book seem to be outsized activists. It’s understandable that activists would be more likely to agree for interviews, but it makes it sound like all parents of different children need to become completely engrossed in the cause.
That being said, the book gives great insight on the lives of parents raising children that are so different from them, and how they and the children can find help and community by reaching outside of the families.
(By the way, the author wrote an excellent book about depression, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.)