Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity CoverNEW BLOG POST AT FIVE PLATES. READ IT NOW!

Have you read the reviews of Andrew Solomon’s new book, Far From the Tree? They’ve been glowing to say the least. Though everyone comments that it’s extremely long and all of the reviewers focus on the story of the deaf children and parents. This is the first chapter in the book so I wonder if that’s as far as the reviewers got. Not that I’m judging this. Book reviewers, like all journalists, are experiences significant cutbacks and freelance budgets are getting axed as well. So that means a book section editor and a couple of writers are responsible for reviewing all of the books. A 600 page book seems like a lot when you’re in that situation.

I read a preview of the book itself and the writing is excellent. The subjects are fascinating as well. The premise is horizontal identity. A horizontal identity, for example, is the identity of a deaf child of hearing parents. Or the identity of a gay child of straight parents.

I’m still thinking about whether I’m ready to commit to Solomon’s book. It’s freezing and raining now in Portland, which is British Crime Novel weather, officially. So I’m not sure I want to go all the way with Mr. Solomon. He’s a gay man from straight parents, so he’d likely not go all the way with me. WHATEVER ANDREW.

Last night while Arch was doing his homework we couldn’t make him sit still and write five sentences using his spelling words. He fidgeted, begged us to come up with sentences. Sharpened every single one of his pencils and generally procrastinated for an hour. A full hour. In which he wrote one sentence. He needed to write five.

During part of that hour, he did all of his math homework without saying a peep to us. He jumps right into math. His teacher told us that he was only one of a few kids in class who understood the places of numbers immediately: 100, 10, 1. 111. He loves adding up coins and he’s already interested in multiplication, division. Subtraction is a breeze.

But writing. Writing! UGH.

I wonder if we’re not all experiencing a horizontal identity from the vertical upbringing with our parents. I think we’re on a spectrum of horizontal identity from our parents. Arch loves skiing, math, anything physically daring. Things I feel decidedly meh about. These are minor things, granted. But I wonder if when he’s grown he’ll be even different than us. Maybe he’ll pursue a career as a rock climber, or skydiver, or stunt pilot. All of which would make me apoplectic, but would be fine. I guess. As long as he doesn’t get a tattoo. Maybe preventing your children from getting a tattoo is in this book somewhere. Or stopping them from smoking. Or drugs. I guess I’ll dig in and report back.

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