First off, I'd like to mention that reviewing books without spoiling them is not a walk in the park. I'm getting better at it, but it's still a work in progress, so I'd appreciate some grace. Second, this book is SO GOOD. My brain fog has been less than usual lately, and the combination of that and summer break means I've been able to read! I'm so thankful that my venture back into literature was marked with a book as well-crafted as Robin Benway's Far From the Tree. (Just so you know, if you buy the book through this Amazon link, I receive a small portion of the sale!)
This book is told from three points of view. The book starts off from the point of view of Grace, a sixteen year old who just gave up her baby, who she nicknamed Peach, for adoption. She knows that Peach is in a home that can provide for her better than she can, but she's still heartbroken. She lost her boyfriend, her friends, and her old relationship with her parents during her pregnancy, and she feels so empty and lost in a world where she can't go back to her old life but can't live as Peach's mother. Grace begins to wonder whether her own birthmother felt these emotions when she gave her up for adoption, and she decides to start looking for her. What she finds instead, though, is that she has two siblings. While her younger sister, Maya, was also adopted as a baby, her older brother, Joaquin, is still in the foster care system. All three siblings have had their struggles in life, and they only make navigating forming new familial relationships harder.
This book is beautifully told. I color-code highlighted my copy like crazy, because the symbolism and recurring themes are out of this world. The story is also very realistic. The siblings don't break down in tears the first time they see each other, instantly have an inseparable bond, and immediately become best friends. They don't instantaneously open up to one another about the realities of the lives they're living. Like any relationship, things take time, and I loved to see that bit of reality in this novel and watch their relationship evolve. This book is serious without being heavy; there's humor and relatability that make this read fun as well as important. I do think that this is an important book, because it addresses a lot of topics, such as alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and ethnicity. It also makes note of correct terms to use when referring to adoptions (such as not calling the birthmother someone's "real mother").
Another thing I loved about this novel is that Joaquin is in therapy, and it's treated as a normal thing. His relationship with his therapist is very accurate to the kind of relationship a lot of teens have with their therapists. He's not treated as someone who's broken and crazy and is therefore doomed to see a therapist. Therapy isn't some scary thing where you lie on a couch and a psychologist asks you how you feel, and this book gets that. I absolutely loved this part of the novel. Joaquin's time in therapy isn't a major component of the book, but it's mentioned just enough and handled in such a way that it really contributes to the sheer awesomeness of this book.
If you couldn't already tell, I'm a huge fan of this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a new realistic fiction read. It has a fantastic storyline and realistically relatable characters. Plus, if you're a nerd like me, it's also a fun read for literature analysis. (But even if you aren't, please don't let the word "analysis" scare you away—I pinky promise it's nothing like the eighteenth century classics you're forced to study in school.)