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Andrew Solomon on Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

Andrew Solomon on Far From the Tree

by Andrew Solomon


Title Details

Running Time
54 Min.


Solomon opens FAR FROM THE TREE with an autobiographical chapter detailing his experience as the gay son of heterosexual parents. At the time of his youth, homosexuality was considered an illness—and a crime. It nevertheless became a cornerstone of his identity. As he tells us, illness describes something biological; identity is a word for something social. We use the word illness when we wish to disparage a way of being, and identity when we wish to celebrate the same way of being. This consideration of the tenuous balance between illness, identity, and the parent-child dynamic led to his research on 10 different kinds of exceptional children: deaf children, children with dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, multiple severe disabilities, or prodigious genius; schizophrenic children; children conceived in rape; children who commit serious crimes; and children who are transgender. Any of these individual differences can be lonely, but considered collectively, they unite much of humanity.

In twelve astonishingly acute and compassionate chapters, Solomon tells stories of children who have been heartbreakingly tragic victims of intense prejudices—but also stories of parents who have embraced their children's differences and tried to alter the world's understanding of their conditions. Solomon's humanity and erudition—and the eloquence he discovers in the voices of his subjects—are transformative.

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