A massive dense deep finely honed study filled with rich erudite prose countered by a great amount of compassion and intellect.
Far from the Tree deals with the search for identity for parents, children and sometimes both at the same time. Essentially there are two types of identities: Vertical your parents, your grandparents your children; and horizontal those groups you identify INDIVIDUALLY with- your friends and those with whom you share some characteristic or personality trait, which can include disabilities and heightened abilities.
Solomon looks at some of these later horizontal identities and sees through numerous interviews how an individual's (be it the parent or child)identity and the search thereof is changed through the experience.
Some of the identities dealt with in this book include: Deafness, Dwarfism, Down Syndrome, Autism,Schizophrenia, prodigies and children of rape.
In each of these chapters, we learn how to re-humanize our views of people with this identities, both by their own strength and resolve as well as those who care for them, as well as the cruelties and hatred and distrust put upon them by the world at large.
They do not need to be re-humanized- but we do as well as our attitudes towards them as a society.
We are all much more similar than we freely admit and must stop becoming so fixated upon the differences. Andrew Solomon accomplishes these goals with a combination of delicacy, insight, empathy and intelligence, and yet never gets between us and the individuals and their stories. Instead through telling these stories he reminds that we are painfully,tragically, beautifully, joyfully Human.