A Powerful Message About Family: Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree: One of the Best YA Books I Have Read In Years!

Far From The Tree by Robin Benway is the perfect young adult book choice for independent reading in the high school classroom! All grade levels, but specifically freshmen and sophomores, will connect to the  powerful message about families.

farfromthetree-198x300 A Powerful Message About Family: Far From the Tree

SummaryGrace is the only child of loving and caring parents, but she is suffering after recently giving up her baby for adoption. This spurs her to start asking questions about her own biological family and she is surprised to find out she is not an only child after all. 

Grace first meets Maya, her younger bio sister, who is secretly struggling with her adoptive parents’ failing marriage and her mother’s alcoholism. 

Finally, Grace and Maya meet Joaquin, their older brother. Joaquin has been in the foster system his entire life. He lives with a couple who desperately want to adopt him, but Joaquin isn’t ready to trust anyone.

The three siblings bond with one another while also considering whether or not to look for their biological mother.

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The Perfect Independent Reading Book for 9th Graders

Far From The Tree is a beautiful book for teenagers. The three siblings are endearing characters that are each dealing with their own trauma. There is so much here that our students can identify with: teen pregnancy, relationships, adoption, alcoholism, racial disparities, a gay protagonist, bullying, isolation, etc. Students who feel different or like they don’t belong could potentially connect to this book. 

My freshman students love this story and it leads to valuable classroom discussion. Robin Benway’s theme is clear: every family is different and no family is perfect. In the current climate of likes and clicks and perfect Instagram photos, this is an essential reminder to our kids – NO family is perfect, no matter what it may look like from the outside looking in. 

Another important note is that Benway portrays adoption in a positive light. There are no evildoers here. It is truly a story of people trying to do their best, sometimes in the toughest of circumstances. 

Check out the interview with Robin Benway below. 

My Recommendations for the high school classroom

“He thought it was ironic that everyone was trying so hard to leave home, when all he wanted to do was stay in one.” (Benway)

Who this book is for: high school students (any grade). This novel is easy to read and not super long, which initially attracts my more reluctant and/or struggling readers. I also promote the audiobook, which was read by Julia Whelan and was very well done. Be warned, there are many uses of the ‘F’ word, the teenagers smoke pot in one scene, and there is a brief reference to a graphic sexual act. 

My recommendations: Yes! Read it! Parents and students, read it together! Teachers, you will love it!

Check out a review from the School Library Journal here. 

Purchase your copy of Far From the Tree here!

Related Articles You May Enjoy

Check out my post on the Dear Martin book series for young adults/struggling readers/reluctant readers here!

Readers who enjoy Far From The Tree may also like Kristin Hannah’s books. Check out my post on Home Front here. 

Check out the lesson planning template that I use for creating and organizing my lessons here!

I hope you enjoyed this review of Far From The Tree, one of the best young adult novels for the freshman classroom!

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