Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Title: Far From the Tree
Author: Robin Benway
Year Published: 2017


Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 374
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2017 Google Reading map)USA (CA?)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money


Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 getting pregnant at sixteen and putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family and finds an older brother and younger sister. But she struggles to find the balance between her cautious joy at discovering two brand-new family members and the gaping loneliness that lingers in the space her daughter once held. 

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, 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. 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.

Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, has no interest in bonding over their shared loss of a biological mother. After all, he is the only one of the three who was never adopted. And seventeen years in the foster care system have taught him his secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, tight to his chest where they can't hurt anyone but him. 

Review: This book is getting a lot of good press as this year comes to a close and it won the National Book Award, which is pretty good pedigree! And wow, I am going to agree with everyone else and say I loved this book. I cried throughout the final third of it (that's a positive thing since I cry at touching or good parts).

The characters make this book and since the chapters rotate narrator among the three siblings, that's awesome. Joaquin, Grace, and Maya are all three people I would want to know, quirks and all. They are believable, lovable, and I just want to hug them and make everything alright. I like that they meet one another fairly early in the story so that we get to see them interact and grow as siblings. Joaquin in particular is the character that moved me most. He is so damaged, but so good, and I just wanted him to be okay.

The story is also one that pulled me right in, forcing me to read this book in two sittings so that I could find out what happens to siblings, their families, and the back story of their birth mother. There is no perfect happy-ever-after ending to this story, but there shouldn't be. You can leave the reader knowing that things will be okay even though everything isn't the way you wanted it to be. 

If you love good YA that pulls in lots of characters, has multiple narrators, and sucks you in so that you keep reading, get this book!

Challenges for which this counts:

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