Sunday Salon: What’s on my nightstand

sunday salonGood morning! Today is the last day of the kids’ holiday break and then it’s back to school tomorrow. It’s been fun having them at home all day but I know they’re looking forward to seeing their friends. Our break has been filled with trips to the park, trying new meals, baking, and just having fun.

solomonI’m currently reading a book that I’ve been dying to share with you guys. It’s called Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon.  It’s been sitting on my shelves for a weeks. It’s due back at the library on Tuesday so I’m trying to finish this 900+ tome by then. I don’t think I will since I’ve been marking passages on almost every page with post-its.

In Far From the Tree, Solomon interviews parents who face the challenge of raising children who have very different identities from their own. These are parents raising a child who is transgender or deaf, mentally or physically disabled, schizophrenic or gifted. The author explores the question of identity versus illness while examining how society views these identities and how that can affect how parents themselves view their own children.

I’m finding this to be a powerful and moving book. I think if you are a parent or may one day become one, you should read this.

“To look deep into your child’s eyes and see in him both yourself and something utterly strange, and then to develop a zealous attachment to every aspect of him, is to achieve parenthood’s self-regarding, yet unselfish, abandon. It is astonishing how often such mutuality had been realized – how frequently parents who had supposed that they couldn’t care for an exceptional child discover that they can. The parental predisposition to love prevails in the most harrowing of circumstances. There is more imagination in the world than one might think.”

The book trailer:

I’m off to try and make a dent in this book. What are you reading?

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37 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: What’s on my nightstand

  1. I’m reading this right now as well and am fascinated by it! I’m in the middle of the autism chapter right now and am really looking forward to reading some of the latter chapters. I hadn’t seen the trailer so thanks for posting it!

  2. I’ve heard much about this book on NPR lately. Going to such extreme examples must make for interesting reading, but don’t most parents have this feeling about their children at some point? I know that I often had it when I looked at my parents.

    • I think that’s a good question. I didn’t have that feeling about my parents. I just figured they are who they are. If anything, they probably had that feeling about me since I’m so different from them. I used to say that I’m the son my dad never wanted. ;-) Growing up I just wanted to be me, the hell with consequences. I don’t think the author went to extreme examples because he also focused on raising an autistic child or raising an older child who you know is gay, two common examples.

      I have three children. My oldest and youngest have very different identities from me. They’re 11 and 7 and I’m still trying to figure out who they are while helping them bring out the best in themselves. It’s challenging in a way that raising my middle child isn’t. I think why this book is probably needed is because this subject isn’t always discussed so openly.

  3. I haven’t heard of this one. Not sure it is published in the UK? But it sounds like something I have to read. Will see if I can get hold of a copy. Thanks for introducing it to me!

  4. I just heard about Far from the Tree last week & put myself on library hold list (I’m waaay at the bottom tho I think in the 80s, lol). Glad it hear it’s worth it!

  5. Also crying after watching that trailer. Especially when the little girl says to her mom, “I’m lucky, too.” Ugh! So amazing. I can’t wait to read this now. (Also, what a successful book trailer!)

  6. Ooh. This sounds really interesting and might answer a few questions. I never fitted in, not in the way my younger brother did. Some of that is cultural – a girl in a family where the maternal line is part Chinese and the paternal line is very competitve about their boys and there’s no girls in the same age range – but a lot of it was personality clash. I guess I was pretty baffling to everyone but it was always a little painful to watch my brother just ‘click into place’ and not being able to really understand why.

    • Alex, I really understand. There was a lot of personality clashing going on when I was growing up too. I was too headstrong, too masculine, too stubborn. . . I think people take for granted how easy it can be for them to “click” and how hard- almost impossible for some of us.

  7. I am reading it also. I actually treated myself to a copy because I knew there was no way I could get through it before it would be due back at the library. I am taking my time with it:)

  8. I’ve been hearing a lot about this one too, in The New Yorker and on NPR. I just ordered it for my new library when I saw we didn’t have it yet. It sounds really interesting!

  9. This sounds very interesting. I don’t know if I could handle 900 pages, though. That’s a big book! I’ll be interested to hear your final thoughts once you’ve finished.

  10. I’ll be interested in your final thoughts of the book. I didn’t find parenting books valuable when Elle was a baby because everything I read just made me feel frustrated but now that her personality is developing rapidly (it was then, too, but you know what I mean) and we are communicating with one another I’ve been feeling the need to pick up something. Not sure this is it but do look forward to what you have to say.

      • I believe in life lessons and I’m pretty sure that one of the things my son will teach me is acceptance and letting go of control. As in I need to accept him for who he is and not try to change him into what I think a boy should be. I suppose that’s the same for all parents, but I’ve been very aware of it since I got pregnant and I can see it in our daily life. I think he’ll teach me a bunch of other things too, but this one is a biggie, I think it’ll become a difficult one as he gets older.

  11. Wow, this book sounds powerful and amazing! I think it can be one of the biggest challenges of raising children…to let them be who they are and not try to force them into the square that is you but let them be a circle instead. :)

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