Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but I believe this book does not reach its full potential. Far From the Tree has a promising plot which focuses on the intertwined lives of three adopted teenagers who find out they are siblings. They are all experiencing problems in one way or another and the author explores these throughout the story. The novel has several positive inspiring moments, however I took issue with some aspects of the book and generally did not find it engaging until the last couple of chapters. The reasons for this will be explored below. The following is a spoiler-free review.
Book Blurb: 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.
There is no doubt that the issues raised by the novel are of great value, such as self-identity and teenage pregnany. The problem lies in how this novel was put together and the awkward characterisation. I found the book to be very slow-paced without much flow to it; the ideas were disjointed and made it hard to empathise with the characters. For instance, at the start of the book Joaquin says he is happy that he has no siblings and would be devastated if he had some. Soon after, when he finds out he has two siblings, there is no exploration of how this affects him. He is suddenly completely fine with it, and it was disappointing that small things like this were not picked up on. There were also editing mistakes within the novel where one character is talking and then a different character’s name is used to continue the sentence. I know it seems like nit-picking, but these little things can be annoying!
As to to characterisation, I did not like Maya at all. She is an extremely irritating character who I would describe as self-absorbed and ungrateful. I can see why this novel has appeal from an objective standpoint, however I felt no connection to the characters and that is a problem because it means this novel did not make me feel anything.
On a positive note, I did find the last few chapters interesting and I liked how the novel felt nicely wrapped up; the ending was pleasant and poignant to read. However, overall this novel is just missing something and it is hard to pinpoint what it is exactly because it appears to be several small things.