Saturday, 16 June 2018

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway


BLURB
A contemporary novel about three adopted siblings who find each other at just the right moment.

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.

THOUGHTS
Recently I've been trying to get back more in to YA - I read a fair amount of YA previously, but then found a lot of what I was reading just wasn't sparking a love and connection of the book for me... Knowing more about myself as a reader now within the YA genre - what I do & don't like - I was keen to find more contemporary YA books with a focus on family. Enter: Far from the Tree by Robin Benway.
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The story centres around three teenagers - Grace, Maya and Joaquin - who come to learn that they're biological siblings, having been given away by their mother when very young and ultimately having been separated. Grace and Maya were adopted into families, whilst Joaquin remained within the foster care system moving from family to family, although when we meet him in the story he is settled with a family.
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All three of the main characters within Far from the Tree have their own individual stories. Grace has recently had a baby and gave her daughter up for adoption, which is what prompted her to want to know more about her biological mother and in turn siblings. Maya is having a hard home life, with an alcoholic parent and divorce for her parents on the cards. Joaquin struggles with his past, and the way in which his life has unfolded, with feelings that he isn't good enough and in turn is pushing those who love him away. As you can see, the three stories are quite heavy in their own individual right, but as the three siblings come together with bonds forming, they are all able to help one another, be there when needed, and work through their own hardships with thanks to the newfound connection formed by the three of them. The dynamic between the three siblings, and seeing how it blossomed, was my favourite things about this book.
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Speaking of dynamics, I also really enjoyed the family dynamics that played out throughout Far from the Tree. No two families are the same, and this was very much highlighted in the book. It also shows the strength in family ties, and how life experiences can change and shape you as a person.
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All the characters within this book were well written - even those who only played a surface role - with Grace, Maya and Joaquin each having their own authentic voice and personality. There was a good amount of teenage angst, drama and more within the book, but it didn't feel written in a theatrical way, but realistically and in a relatable manner.
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Whilst reading, I definitely found myself caring for the characters - rooting for them, wanting the best for them, feeling invested in their life in many ways. Although I felt this way about all three main characters, I do feel like I favoured Grace and Joaquin more than Maya. There were elements of Joaquin's story that I could relate to from my own teenage years, and Grace had a really strong voice in my opinion. Also, I quite enjoyed the relationship that formed between Grace and Rafe - the banter was good.
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Far from the Tree deals with some hard hitting topics that require sensitivity, compassion and understanding... Robin Benway tackles these themes perfectly, and has written a beautiful (& at times heart breaking) story.
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6 comments

  1. I have this book sitting on my TBR shelf. It’s been there for months because I heard that the book is sad. I’ve been putting it off until I’m ready for it. Great review! I’m glad you liked it.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Oh yes, definitely be prepared on the sadness front! I hope you enjoy it when you get round to reading it.

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  2. I love this premise and I'm glad that you really enjoyed it. I like that it handles real issues without either dismissing them or going into melodramatic-ness. I'm adding this to my TBR.

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    1. Great!!

      Yes, I think the issues within where handled so well!

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  3. I really enjoyed this book and loved all the family dynamics. I agree I found myself leaning towards Grace and Joaquin more than Maya . Great review!

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    1. Thanks - the overall portrayal of family was really well done. Glad you enjoyed this title also :-)

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