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Extrait

III

Dwarfs

Until I attended my first dwarf convention—the 2003 Little People of America (LPA) meeting in Danvers, Massachusetts—I had no clue how many kinds of dwarfism there are, nor how many varieties of appearance are collected under the category. Dwarfism is a low-incidence condition, usually occurring because of a random genetic mutation. Since most dwarfs are born to average-height parents, they do not have vertical community. There has been occasional talk about building a town for little people (LPs); there are metropolises where activist LPs have settled; there are high concentrations of otherwise rare dwarfing conditions among the Amish; but there has never been a significant geographic concentration of people of short stature. This means that the national LPA gatherings are not simply occasions to attend lectures and consult medical experts; for some participants, they are the annual exception to a certain kind of loneliness. The gatherings are emotionally intense; one dwarf I met told me she was “happy for one week a year,” although others emphasized that they love both of their lives—the one in the larger world, and the one among their LPA friends. More than 10 percent of Americans of short stature belong to LPA, and the organization has a role in the LP community that is greater than that of similar groups for comparable populations.

Arriving at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort, where the convention was taking place, I was struck by how the concentration of LPs changed my perception of them. Instead of seeing, primarily, short stature, I saw that one was exceptionally beautiful, that one was unusually short even for a dwarf, that one laughed uproariously and often, that one had an especially intelligent face—and so I began to recognize how generically I had responded to little people until then. I understood what a relief it had to be for them that no one was focused on their height. Of course, the LPA convention was all about stature, but it was also the place where stature became blessedly irrelevant.

It would be difficult for an outsider to acknowledge this particularizing view of, for example, Latinos or Muslims. To say that a person’s ethnicity or religion had overwhelmed, even temporarily, one’s ability to appreciate his other personal characteristics would seem bigoted. But dwarfism has been the exception to these social rules. According to Betty Adelson, author of The Lives of Dwarfs and Dwarfism, “The only permissible prejudice in PC America is against dwarfs.” Mary D’Alton, chair of Columbia University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a leader in the field of high-risk pregnancy, told me that dwarfism is the most difficult diagnosis to communicate to expectant parents. “You say that the baby has a hole in his heart,” she said, “and they say, ‘But you can fix that, right?’ But when I tell someone that they will be having a dwarf, they often seem disgusted by the idea.”

Many of the attendees I met my first day at LPA could identify instantly conditions that I had never heard of or imagined and had certainly never seen. When I went down to the conference disco the first night, I saw a brother and sister who had primordial dwarfism; they were full-grown, perfectly proportioned, and only about twenty-nine inches high. Their parents stood with them to make sure they weren’t trampled—a danger even at the dwarf convention. I learned that the girl played percussion in her high school band; she had a classmate who pushed her tiny wheelchair, and she held the drum in her lap—looking, in the words of a dwarf who was herself just three foot eight, “like a marionette.” The conference featured athletic competitions; a marathon-length talent show, including acts from Christian music to break dancing; and a fashion show, which revealed a broad range of dressy and casual styles, all tailored to little bodies. The conference also provided an eagerly awaited opportunity for dating. A dwarf comedian cracked, “You know you’re a teenager at LPA if you’ve had more boyfriends this week than you’ve had in the last year.”

• • •

When I met Mary Boggs on my second day at LPA, she told me that the organization had changed her life. When her daughter Sam was born in 1988, the obstetrician initially assumed that the baby’s diminutive size was a result of her premature arrival. A month later, while she was still in the neonatal intensive care unit, he diagnosed her with achondroplasia. “We would have rather had a child that was deaf or blind,” Mary told me. “Just anything besides a dwarf would have been better. When you’re thinking about what could go wrong with a pregnancy, this doesn’t cross your mind. We were thinking, ‘Why did we have another child at all?’”

Sam came home to her parents’ house in the suburbs of Washington, DC, on oxygen and a monitor. After six months, when Sam was declared physically healthy, Mary took her to her first local LPA meeting. When Sam was a year and a half old, she had a shunt inserted in her head to relieve her hydrocephalus (the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the head); fortunately, she did not have the skeletal problems that in later life afflict so many people with achondroplasia. Mary and her husband got step stools and put them all over the house; they purchased light-switch extenders; they moved the faucet on the kitchen sink. These adjustments at home were easier to control than the challenges outside. “We’ve had people chase us down the grocery aisle to ask questions,” Mary said. “We learned to stare back. It frightens them off. I’d watch Sam not playing with the other kids because she’s too small to do what they do. You just feel sad.”

Before Sam set off for kindergarten, her parents told her that other kids would call her names; they reviewed what some of those names might be and taught her appropriate responses. Mary went to the school and explained Sam’s special needs, giving the teacher a book about dwarfs that she could read aloud to the class. The school lowered the sink and water fountain and installed a grab bar so Sam could pull herself up on the toilet. The kids in her class learned her story, but each year it was new to an incoming kindergarten class, and some would call her names. So Sam decided to make a presentation to each incoming class. She would explain, “I’m little, but I’m eight years old. I’m in third grade. I’m a dwarf, and I’m just like you all, but just short.” She did that every year through elementary school, and the teasing stopped.

When Sam was five, the Boggs family attended their first national LPA convention. “We walked in and saw a thousand dwarfs,” Mary said. “Sam was in shock. I thought my other daughter, who is average height, was going to cry. It took two or three days for us to take it in.” Over the years that followed, the Boggs family persuaded extended family and friends to come to meetings, so that they would know dwarfs other than Sam. “The grandparents could see adult dwarfs and realize, ‘Okay, this is what Sam’s going to look like,’” Mary said. She considered for a minute. “We went for Sam, but also so we could be comfortable with her. To make it easier for us to love her right.”

Middle school was more difficult than elementary school. “People who had been friends for years were suddenly not wanting to hang out with her anymore,” Mary said. “She was not called to go roller skating or go to the movies on Friday night. They pretended that it wasn’t because she was a dwarf. But she knew.” The athletics department gave her a varsity letter for being manager of the track team; she participated in student council and was elected treasurer of her class. Despite this, she was down to a couple of friends. “She’s a little lonely,” Mary said. “She’d have crushes on the boys at school, but eventually realized that average-size guys were not interested in going out with her. It was a big turning point when she started looking more at the hot guys at LPA.”

When I met Sam, she was in the throes of her first romance. She was fifteen going on sixteen, attractive and strikingly mature, and, at three feet nine inches, fairly short for a teenager with achondroplasia. Mary was optimistic about the future. “I would prefer for her to have an LP boyfriend or LP husband,” she said to me. “I think it’ll be easier for her. It’s kind of neat. I mean, you have a dwarf child. But it doesn’t just stop there; it goes on forever. We’re going to have, probably, a dwarf son-in-law, and dwarf grandchildren. What used to be an average-size family then becomes, when we’re gone, a dwarf family! And to think, if I’d known about this early in my pregnancy, I might have terminated.”

• • •

Writing in 1754, William Hay, a dwarf and the first notable memoirist of disability, described visiting a general: “I never was more humbled, than when I walked with him among his tall Men, made still taller by their Caps. I seemed to my self a Worm and no Man: and could not but inwardly grieve, that when I had the same Inclination to the Service of my Country and Prince, I wanted their Strength to perform it.” This feeling of inadequacy salted with the wish to transcend it has been a common narrative among dwarfs, but in the long pause between Hay’s dignified early account and the modern literature on the experience of being an LP, a grossness of prejudice has often quelled that dignity.

Woody Allen once quipped that dwarf is one of the four funniest words in the English language. To be in your very essence perceived as comical is a significant burden. When I described the other categories included in this book, my listeners were hushed by the seriousness of the enterprise; at the mention of dwarfs, friends burst into laughter. I would describe, for example, the time during a convention when a miscreant dwarf had made a bomb threat at 8:00 a.m., so that all hotel guests, most recovering from a night of intense partying, had to evacuate the building. People found hilarity in the mere idea of some five hundred sleepy dwarfs, many of them hungover, standing in the hotel’s forecourt. This had some resonance for me; I know that not so long ago, people might have found the idea of five hundred sleepy homosexuals similarly hilarious. But homosexuality can be hidden, and being among gay people is not a visual gag. Passersby who might avert their eyes tactfully from wheelchair users stare at dwarfs. A sighted woman who marries a blind man inspires admiration; an average-size woman who marries a dwarf inspires suspicion that she has a fetish. Dwarfs still appear in freak shows; in dwarf-tossing competitions; and in pornography, where a whole subgenre featuring dwarf sex exploits an objectifying voyeurism. This is testimony to a callousness beyond that shown to almost any other disabled group. Barbara Spiegel, now director of community outreach at LPA, described how her grandmother said, “You’re a beautiful girl, but no one’s going to marry you. You need to be able to do everything because you’re going to be alone.” Barbara’s stepmother complained about having to be seen on the street with her.

More than 80 percent of people with skeletal dysplasias—the primary dwarfing conditions, the most common among which is achondroplasia, resulting in shortened limbs, a large head, and an average trunk—are born to average parents with no history of dwarfism in their families, either because of de novo mutations or because both parents carry a recessive gene. Other forms of dwarfism include pituitary dwarfism, based on lack of human growth hormone, and psychosocial dwarfism, caused by severe physical abuse.

Parents are still dealing with a legacy of blame assigned to mothers. From medieval times into the eighteenth century, “monstrous births” were said to indicate the unfulfilled desires of lascivious women, whose obscene longings supposedly produced deformity. This theory, called Imaginationism, was hotly debated for hundreds of years. The Princeton historian Marie-Hélène Huet describes how “in the nineteenth century, discoveries in the fields of embryology and heredity provided scientists with new ways of explaining resemblances. But if the mother’s imagination was no longer perceived by the medical field to be a factor in resemblances, its role as the shaper of progeny was never totally forgotten.” John Mulliken, a pediatric surgeon, writes that every parent wants to know what he or she did to cause the situation. “In most cases, the answer is nothing. But every mother is blamed.”

Dwarfism is also often outside the experience of doctors with whom these parents initially interact, and parents frequently recall being told of the condition with particular insensitivity. Adelson recounts one doctor’s pronouncement to the parents of a newly diagnosed child—“You have given birth to a circus dwarf”—and another’s equally heartless recommendation that a child he had diagnosed should “be institutionalized or sent to live with a dwarf troupe in Florida.” One mother reported that most doctors acted as though her daughter were defective and therefore didn’t deserve to be treated like a “real” baby. Another described being in the delivery room with her dwarf husband when the doctor said to them both, “I regret to tell you that your child is a dwarf.”

Such behavior from a doctor is not merely a breach of etiquette; the way the news of a dwarfing condition is communicated to parents may have a lasting effect on their ability to love and care for their child. Mothers and fathers are helped by knowing right away that the child will have a full life span, that they did not cause the dwarfism through acts during pregnancy, and that their child can lead a happy, healthy, and independent life. Parents, in turn, influence friends and family; embarrassed parents create awkward friends. In addition to LPA, organizations such as the MAGIC Foundation and the Human Growth Foundation have fact-filled websites and sponsor both online chat rooms and local support groups, providing average-size parents of dwarf children opportunities to meet dwarfs who are living positive, fulfilling lives.

Nonetheless, many parents begin in sadness, denial, and shock. One dwarf, Ginny Sargent, wrote online, “No matter what we (as dwarfs) feel about how great it is to be alive, I still can’t help but wonder how much more pain (more than I) my mother was in when I was in discomfort . . . upset, hurt, or disheartened and beaten down by my uniqueness.”

Matt Roloff, former president of LPA and father on the popular television program Little People, Big World, said, “My parents didn’t wonder what I would like to do, what kind of woman I’d marry, or how many children I would have. They wondered what I could do for a living, if I could ever marry, and if I could have children.” He is now married to Amy, also a dwarf, and they have four children. Little People, Big World, which ran for almost four years on the Learning Channel, documented the Roloffs’ lives on their farm in Portland, Oregon. The show is somewhat voyeuristic but fairly clear of sensationalism, and it has helped to normalize perceptions of LPs.

Amy Roloff grew up in a household in which few accommodations were made for her. Friends who came to visit wondered why the phone was positioned where she needed to climb on a stool to reach it. “My mom said, ‘If Amy has to learn to adapt outside of the home, she might as well feel comfortable and learn to adapt within the home.’ Nothing was really tailored to my needs, and that was a good idea, ’cause I’m more independent.” The Roloffs have two average-height sons and one, Zach, with achondroplasia. Amy didn’t want to set up a house that suited the LPs in the family and felt foreign to the average kids, so she kept things “regular.” She encouraged Zach to be both proud of and nonchalant about his dwarfism. “He said one day, ‘Mom, we were playing and the kids were a little too rough.’ I said, ‘Zach, why don’t you be a little grateful that; perhaps, this was a moment where they don’t even think of you as a little person; they’re just hanging out and goofing around with you? That’s a good thing.’”

This equalizing spirit is extended to all of her children. Jeremy is the eldest and the tallest. “I have to remind Matt that we can’t take advantage of Jeremy because he’s tall. I don’t want him to think that he’s only good in the family ’cause he’s tall.” But even the New York Times, commenting on her children as they appear on TV, described Jeremy as “a gorgeous young athlete who manages the soccer ball with lazy grace,” and his brother Zachary as having “a clever and intense persona.” There’s nothing wrong with a clever and intense persona, but it’s interesting what different vocabulary comes up when the writer is describing, with kind intent, someone with a body that is not beautiful within the conventions of our larger society.

Revue de presse

"The tales Solomon returns with, of profound disability and extreme differences overcome, make it a bible of empathy and inclusion" (Cressida Connolly Spectator)

"Andrew Solomon's Far From The Tree is a prodigious, illuminating book about the challenge of being a parent - especially when children are out of the ordinary" (Tim Adams Observer)

"Life-affirming, thought provoking and highly readable, the book was compiled over 10 years of interviews and I found it deeply moving" (Kate Kellaway Observer)

"Many accounts are desperately moving, but Solomon goes far beyond cheap pity... The book is an exquisite written study of parental love - as well as "a how-to manual for receptivity"" (Kerry Hudson Herald)

"[A] magnificent study of disability and identity differences" (Susannah Meadows New York Times)

"This wise book is a careful and surprising study of difference between parent and child and how it shapes our lives" (Stephen Grosz Sunday Telegraph)

"For anyone struggling with decisions over parenting, it's an affirming reminder that there is no such thing as "normal"" (Femke Colborne Big Issue in the North)

"Parents - especially mothers - are the heroes of this book, many of them describing with extraordinary absence of self-pity how they have coped with almost unimaginable adversity" (Dominic Lawson Sunday Times)

"Solomon really makes you think... Uniquely brilliant" (William Leith Evening Standard)

"Beautiful" (The Times) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .



Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 976 pages
  • Editeur : Scribner; Édition : Export (13 novembre 2012)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1476706956
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476706955
  • Dimensions du produit: 15,5 x 4,8 x 23,5 cm
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Andrew did some fantastic research to pull this book together. Myriad of stories helped me appreciate the parent/child relationship differently - including my own. I would like to see the chapter on criminals be further developed. My only critic is the last chapter that I couldn't appreciate at all. The book was full of choices forced upon parents to make however but Andrew's final chapter was about his own choices that were deliberately sought.
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0 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par celina lachampt le 28 avril 2014
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
J'ai été intéressée par l'une des psychose que l''auteur, hélas, a choisi de ne pas la traiter en son livre..
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228 internautes sur 235 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Thoughtful and well-researched 21 novembre 2012
Par Greenbyoo - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Far From the Tree is a TOME. I mean, it's a great big, heavy book in every sense of the word. To be honest, I was a little intimidated when my copy arrived! I didn't read it cover to cover, but started with the autism chapter because it was relevant to our family. I found it to be a very well-researched, sensitive look at how autism can affect a parent's life, hopes, and perceptions.

That chapter was so good, I moved to the crime chapter and stayed up way too late because I could not put it down. Thank you, Mr. Solomon for pointing out the absurdities in our justice system when it comes to dealing with juvenile crime. (And as for the reviewer who questioned including crime at all, this book focuses on any possible way that a child can turn out different than their parents expected, and being guilty of a crime definitely seems appropriate to me.) I learned a lot from this chapter, and was particularly fascinated by the Klebolds' story. Once again, Soloman wrote with sensitivity about a very difficult and controversial topic.

From there I read the chapter on dwarfism, and then finally turned to the first pages of the book and started reading the beginning! I wanted to learn about how families deal with a diagnosis of autism; instead I learned about how families deal with all kinds of unexpected outcomes, how resilient parents can be when faced with hardships, and how connected are the identities of parents and their children. As a parent, I understand the constant struggle to balance who we want our children to be and who they actually are. "There is no such thing as reproduction" may be my new mantra.

One more thing: in 700 pages (okay, I admit, I didn't read the Acknowledgments) I never found an example of "martyrdom" that one reviewer complained about. The book relates honest responses from parents in the trenches. Parenting isn't always fun, even for parents of kids who have no extra challenges. But Far From the Tree isn't a chronicle of long-suffering devastated parents; there are plenty of positive, hopeful, make-the-best-of-it moments as well.

It's a fascinating book for anyone interested in parenting, psychology, or the history of disability. Highly recommended.
188 internautes sur 197 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Moving And Informative Book On Raising Children Different From Ourselves 14 novembre 2012
Par Jack - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we are?
This is the question posed by award-winning writer Andrew Solomon in "Far From The Tree." How do parents deal with raising a child who isn't what they expected him or her to be? What if the child is autistic? Deaf? Has Down Syndrome? And how much does nurture have to do with the people our children become? Or is it more due to nature?

Solomon began writing this book twelve years ago, after attending a protest of deaf students who opened his eyes to seeing people with `differences' as not having disabilities, but having their own unique gifts. He follows the lives of many families who are faced with the challenge of raising children who are profoundly different than they expected them to be. Each of these stories reveals in their own way the nature of humanity, the unconditional love of parents for their children, and the desire for all humans to be valued as individuals.

Solomon also shines a spotlight on his own upbringing. The gay son of heterosexual parents, who was also dyslexic and bullied for not conforming to the stereotypical expectations of what a typical male should be, Solomon reveals how he overcame his insecurities to not only accept himself, but to decide to become a father.
106 internautes sur 116 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Everyone will be talking 15 novembre 2012
Par KK in Worcester - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Everyone will be talking about this book and everyone should. Mr. Solomon's deeply personal narration and vivid story-telling combine with extensive factual scholarship to make compelling reading out of topics you might otherwise expect to find repugnant or marginal. Full disclosure: I read an early draft and have been waiting ever since for others to have this chance to expand their hearts by reading it, too.

The book offers a world of information on particular conditions; it ponders the wider implications of choice and identity for both the parents and the children dealing with dwarfism, deafness, criminality, etc. And just as learning you are not alone with a special gift or disability can be liberating for an individual person, so learning that other families are dealing with the same conditions can give heart to parents who feel isolated. Moreover, those who have had to focus on one particular condition will be led to see wider commonalities. All of us know someone who is profoundly different from their parents. And because Mr. Solomon brings coherence to the book by thinking across conditions, he implicitly opens the way for thinking about analogous conditions not specifically covered.

What is most deeply moving is Mr. Solomon's ability to portray each individual as a unique person. The book is full of voices and stories, a reminder that we are all always surrounded by people who are like us, different from us, and challenged in ways we've never thought of before. Together, they are sobering reminders of how deep the pain of the human condition can be, but also sources of inspiration and hope.

Mr. Solomon is never dogmatic. He has opinions, but he also makes clear that no formulaic rules apply to the choices parents and children must make because every circumstance is different and every person is a unique combination of his or her own abilities and values. If the book urges anything, it is to love and see the power of human compassion, understanding, and hope.
56 internautes sur 61 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.4 stars--lots of good information but still a mixed bag 11 août 2013
Par H. Laack - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Andrew Solomon has turned upside down the adage, "An apple doesn't fall far from the tree" in his exploration of a panoply of conditions that may sometimes distance children from their parents. The range of these situations is broad and often quite unrelated, but this theme of family dissonance and adaptation to that dissonance ties the book together in most aspects. While I can definitely recommend the book to many audiences, I did vacillate over whether to give it three or four stars. In the end, I have chosen to round down rather than up. My reasoning:

Pros:
Solomon's research is solid and thorough and generally avoids the kind of "professionalese" that can sometimes infect scholastic writing of this nature. He has combined discussion of current scientific literature with extensive personal stories of families, and his accounts of these situations shows a real care for the people he has interviewed and spent hours and days and weeks with.

Solomon has included some situations many of us may not want to acknowledge or that may not even have crossed our radar as being problems for parents. We see stories of conventions of dwarfs or see a video clip of a child prodigy or read a news account of a juvenile crime spree or have our heartstrings tugged by Facebook entries about a Downs child named prom king, and we may not think of the parental struggles behind each of these diverse situations. Almost a dozen different challenges are presented chapter by chapter, giving us an opportunity to better understand how situations that are "not normal" tax even the most caring parents.

Each chapter stands almost alone in the coverage of a challenging parenting issue. If you don't have time to read over 700 pages (and reference almost 200 additional pages of notes and bibliography), you could zero in on just one or a few situations that you would like to learn more about.

Cons:
The length of the book alone will be a problem for many, as this is not something to be skimmed over lightly. I read this as a hard copy and wonder whether the size of the text would work very well as an e-book, especially given my frequent referencing of notes and use of the index to go back to concepts and names mentioned earlier.

In his last chapter, Solomon notes "When broadmindedness blinds us to our offspring's needs, our love becomes denial," yet there are many places where it seems like an earnest and probably well-meaning effort at being broadminded and accepting of every difference noted has sometimes not been in the ultimate best interest of the children featured. While many readers may disagree with me, I am more than a little concerned that some of the family stories included may fall into what one "trans-friendly therapist" said: "Parents tell me often, and it's sort of Pzc, that they are following their child's lead." And though Solomon follows this quote with "If your child is seven, you probably don't let them choose what they're going to eat for dinner, let alone if they're going to transition to a new gender." However, Solomon generally seems most supportive of this child-leading-the-parent style, even when it may not be best for the child's long term development.

Finally, the beginning and end of the book (which, as many earlier reviewers have illustrated with their comments) contain Solomon's personal family story, both his relationships with his own parents and with his partner and very 21st century family structure. While this is every writer's privilege (and duty?), his own struggles seemed to be projected onto some of the stories in other chapters, creating a less objective look at the overall picture.

If you decide to read the book--and you should--don't just read the first chapter. But if you don't have time to read all of the text, read the first and last chapters along with those sections that are most relevant to you to get the appropriate context...and then come back later to the unread portions. I think you will be glad you did.
53 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The author not only writes about parents with children far different from them but how the research affected his own identity 14 novembre 2012
Par Kcorn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Far from the Tree focuses on parents who raise children very different from them. Some have mental illness. Others have been conceived during a rape. And then there are the prodigies, a group which may seem strange to include in a volume which focuses on children society may label as "disabled."But author Andrew Solomon asserts that parents of prodigies face many of the same challenges as those with other children who are vastly different from their parents - or different in ways that standard parenting books don't cover.

I am glad that Solomon expands and questions the standard perceptions of those individuals considered far from the norm - whatever normal is ( and the author questions assumptions about that as well).

As a gay man who also is dyslexic, Solomon also shares his own struggles and search for identity, some of which are similar to the children and adults in the book. His honest, vivid, and detailed recollections add an extra richness and added perspective to his research and interviews. He notes that "my parents had misapprehended who I was' and he concludes that "other parents must be constantly misapprehending their own children" . They may even see their child's challenges as an "affront."

Far From the Tree is one of the best books I've read this year, encompassing a host of questions about how we perceive those who we consider different and even frightening. It is inspiring to read that of the strong love some parents feel for children others may so easily dismiss, a love that may even surprise them.

One example: a mother has a daughter who is a dwarf and wonders how to help her daughter forge her unique identity. How much should she try to get her daughter to be like everyone else (only shorter)? Should she strive to ensure that her daughter has dwarf role models and mentors? Readers - as I did - are likely to ponder these questions and wonder what answers they'd choose.

Solomon describes how raising children so different from themselves can humble parents, bring them to their knees, cause despair - or enrich their lives in ways they never imagined. Reading of their experiences, I was forced to question my own assumptions and biases about the word "disabled" and how far I'd go to help my child blend in - or simply accept and even celebrate his differences.

Far From the Tree tackles issues which are likely to be considered controversial but are so worth exploring. Should deaf children be urged to participate in the hearing world or should parents accept that they can benefit from being primarily members of a community of other deaf people Is deafness truly a disability or are there benefits as well? Of course, I can't help thinking of the Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, a man with two prosthetic legs who was ranked among the top racers in the world. He was named one of hundred most influential people in the world by Time magazine. How many did he inspire? Solomon mentions him in the book.

Potential readers should know that this book is far from an easy read. The main body of Far from the Tree is 702 pages and the Acknowledgments, Notes, Bibliography, and Index are an additional 200 pages long. Still, it is a book which is worth the time, one likely to change your perspective on how you see those individuals who sometimes are shoved to the margins of our society.

As Solomon confesses, "Sometimes, I had thought the heroic parents in this book were fools, enslaving themselves to a life with their alien children...." He is surprised to discover that "my research had built me a plank, and that I was ready to join them on their ship. " I was so glad I got to be along for the ride.
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