Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway


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.


The day before, her mom had made Grace change the sheets and clean out from under her bed, and "open a window–it smells like a hobbit hole in here." (Grace's mom wrote a thesis on Tolkien in college, so she referred to a lot of things as "hobbit holes." Grace's dad and Grace had learned to roll with it.)

In case you don't know Robin Benway (yet): you are in for a treat! In case you do know Robin Benway: you already know what's coming. This book was absolutely beautiful. Not necessarily the style of writing (which is nice but not particularly outstanding) but in how the story progresses, how the characters are created and move through the world, how family is presented, how everyone has nuance, how much love and positivity and healing curses through this story, makes it warm and cozy and made me, literally, cry when I looked at the chapter overview after having read the first chapter and realizing how this story was gonna pan out. 

He was starving. He was always starving. Mark and Linda used to joke about how much food he ate, so he took the hint and scaled back on eating. When they realized what he was doing, they were horrified. No one jokes about food anymore. They even kept extra bread in the freezer just for him.

Honestly, I have a lot of crying to confess to. Not the sort of hysteric sobbing when something terrible happens, but the sort of soft and steady trickle of love/content where you are very happy but also a little sad at all times. I cried a little when I started the book I cried a little at the end of the story and sometimes I cried a little in-between the two. Frankly, it was quite a nice reading experience. Everytime I picked the book up again (figuratively since I read it as an e-book) my heart swelled a little.

That being said, this book also felt a little unusual for a Robin Benway book because it was a lot less funny than the previous books I had read by her. It wasn't not funny just not as funny as I might have expected. Still, I thought the rest of the story quite made up for it. Moreover, Benway tackles such an abundance of themes (and does so with compassion and understanding) that I did not think anything was lacking whatsoever; there was always something going on and problems to deal with that I only noticed the lack of humour retrospectively.

All in all: I fell in love with this book and I encourage you to pick it up, too, and give it a try because you might just feel similarly to me. And even if you don't I strongly believe that there is a lot to be gained from reading Far From the Tree. Robin Benway just has a way with combining heartfelt stories, heartfelt parent-children relationships (she's the best at those), and heartfelt friendships (as well as romantic relationships) into the most wonderful experiences, don't miss this one.

"So, you're returning something?" he asked, and okay, Grace had to give him credit. It couldn't be easy trying to make conversation with a girl who he had last seen crying on the floor of a bathroom because she had just punched another boy, all while dead animals were being hacked up next door in the name of science. 


Similarly to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry this one has potential of becoming a new favorite and I'm giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars, too.


Name: Far From the Tree
Deutscher Titel: Wir drei verzweigt
Author: Robin Benway
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 374
Where?: Amazon (English edition), Amazon (deutsche Ausgabe)


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