What Is Family, Really? Read This Beautiful Story To Find Out

What Is Family, Really? Read This Beautiful Story To Find OutFar from the Tree
by Robin Benway
Release Date: October 3rd 2017
Published by HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Format: eARC
Pages: 384
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Source: ARC received for review purposes

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.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Quite frankly, I’m of the opinion that Robin Benway can do no wrong. Far From The Tree just went ahead and proved me right in that regards. It’s a poignant and powerful tale of love and family that struck deep with me, and is one of my favorite reads of the year.

This is a book of three teens who are each at different points in their lives, but who are linked to each other through their birth mother. Far From The Tree is told in the compelling voices of Grace, Maya and Joaquin, who have grown up in very different homes. Grace has just given birth and has given her baby, who she lovingly names Peach, up for adoption. Though she knows that Peach is growing up in a good home, she’s still struggling with regaining normalcy in her life. Her grief and guilt are palpable throughout the book. My heart would ache with her. Robin Benway did such a lovely job with her characters. She made me feel all of Grace’s emotions, and she made me want to root for her happiness. In an attempt to deal with her sadness, she connects with her half-siblings, Maya and Joaquin, who are both dealing with their own issues.

Maya, too grew up in an adoptive family, who has been nothing short of loving towards her. But she struggles day in and out with fitting in. This leads her to being a little bitter, and she channels her bitterness into sarcasm. When her parents decide to get a divorce, her thoughts lead her astray because she believes she’s the reason for the family breaking up. Maya seems like a destructive character at first, but the moments when her vulnerabilities shined through were the ones that made me really care for her. It’s a little heartbreaking to watch her nearly destroy all her relationships around her as she struggles with her thoughts and guilt. Her girlfriend and their relationship was a nice addition to the story because she helped balance out Maya.

And then there was Joaquin. Even when I think of him, I get all teary-eyed. He, unlike his younger sisters, did not find himself getting updated. He’s been in the foster care system for the longest time, and he thinks no one will ever love him enough to adopt him. I felt so so angry at his situation because I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to find a forever home, because he was such a sweet boy, who deserved nothing but happiness and love. Life finally finds a way to shine some luck on him in the form of his current foster parents who decide they love him and want him as their own. But Joaquin is battling with his demons and is afraid that he will ruin a good thing. All three obviously have really sad stories, but it’s Joaquin’s that hit me the hardest for some reason.

Though the three siblings initially are wary of each other, they easily grow a comfort level together. It was lovely to read about the bond they grow, and watching them slowly help each other out in ways that only a sibling can. I loved all the family dynamics here, also those besides the siblings relationship. Grace, Maya and Joaquin’s families are wonderful, flawed, but ultimately loving.

Far From The Tree is a such a beautiful book with lots of powerful messages.  I love books like this that make me feel, and if you do too, then you most definitely should be picking it up.

What are some of your favorite family-oriented YA titles?
Let me know in the comments below!

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