Book review · contemporary · Young adult

Review: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

33830437This book has so much heart. It’s a story about three biological siblings reconnecting after being adopted (or not, in Joaquin’s case) by different families. It could have been so sappy or tragic so easily, but it wasn’t, and if some things felt a little contrived sometimes, they never felt like they were there just to make you sad. I love well-written emotional contemporaries.

It follows:
🍂 Joaquin, the eldest brother, who is biracial Mexican and almost eighteen. He has lived almost his entire life in foster care, and while there’s a couple who wants to adopt him now, he doesn’t feel like he deserves that.
🍂 Grace, white and straight, got pregnant as a teen. She felt like she couldn’t take care of her daughter, so a couple adopted her. However, it was a very hard decision for her, and while she was pregnant she lost all her friends, and she doesn’t know when her life will begin to feel normal again. She wants to try to reconnect with her biological mother. She also starts falling for a boy, and this book has one of thecutest m/f romances I’ve read in a while.
🍂 Maya, white lesbian, the youngest of the three. I read this book just because of her – when a book with a queer main character gets translated in my language, I read it – and I’m so glad I did. She was my favorite PoV, I’m so glad this book had a sweet f/f relationship in it. Maya struggles a lot with letting people in; her adoptive parents are also divorcing (and one of them is an alcoholic). Anyway, this is why representation is important in every book: because the less popular queer ones often do not get translated, but books like this one do, and that’s the way we get queer books in Italy.

I loved seeing these three connect again and start acting like siblings, but what I liked the most was the way this book talked about self-hate and the feelings of not deserving the good things that happen to you through the PoVs of Joaquin and Maya. I had to blink back tears at some point, and that almost never happens to me.

Far From the Tree deals with a lot of topics – divorce, adoption, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, being a lesbian in high school, being Mexican in a white family – and does that with care and never seems to use those topics as devices to shock the readers, which was my main fear with this book. But nothing felt underdeveloped or just there to make you sad, and if by the end a few spoiler-y things felt a little contrived, I didn’t even care that much.

If you liked this book and/or want to read something that deals with similar themes, I recommend the underrated This Is What It Feels Likeby Rebecca Barrow, which is another emotional, well-written diverse contemporary.

The main reason I’m not giving this book a full five stars is that I often had no sense of setting. I often have this problem with books written by white American authors, so I kind of expected this, but I prefer when my contemporary stories don’t feel like they’re floating in blank space.

My rating: ★★★★½

2 thoughts on “Review: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

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