Robin Benway’s “Far From the Tree” tells the story of three biological siblings who meet each other for the first time, 15 years after the disappearance of their mother. Their complicated relationship with each other only gets more tangled when the secrets they all harbor come to light.
Grace never knew their mother, as she was adopted shortly after her birth. The teenager finds herself repeating history after she gives birth to her own beloved daughter and then gives her up for adoption. Grace’s sense of loss and guilt drive her to reach out to her newly discovered siblings: her older brother Joaquin and younger sister Maya.
Although the teens have an awkward start, they soon begin to rely on each other. But each has their own problems with controlling their lives.
Joaquin will soon turn 18, an important age for a teen who never left the foster care system. After years of being passed from home to home, his latest foster parents want to adopt him. But Joaquin’s lack of stable relationships and shadowy past has broken his sense of attachment and trust.
Maya, the youngest of the three, has always stood out in her adopted family as the obviously different sibling. She feels her connection with her sister, girlfriend, and parents strain and break as her parents struggle with their own relationship.
Grace’s battle to move on from the birth of her child is a losing one. She wants Joaquin and Maya to help her find their biological mother, but they feel she abandoned them and they should keep to the status quo. Their frankness holds Grace back from telling them the truth about her backstory and her baby.
“Far From the Tree” masterfully explores the meaning and connection of love, friendship, and most importantly, family. The novel’s characters are perfectly crafted into realistic and lovable figures. The story itself is intriguing, filled with conflict and social justice while maintaining a YA tone. This raw and artistic portrayal of emotions makes this novel one of the best of the year!