Review: Far From The Tree, Robin Benway

A little while ago now, I read and fell in love with Emmy & Oliver, a beautiful story about childhood friends -my weakness, guys-, written by Robin Benway. Obviously, I wanted to read more from her as soon as I could, but you know how TBRs go…they are endless. I was, once again, pleasantly surprised once I got to read Far From The Tree, a beautiful book that focuses, drumrolls…On family ties. YES, please, I want and need more of that in my young adult contemporary books.

A CHARACTER-DRIVEN JOURNEY

πŸ’­

Far From The Tree follows the life of three teenagers, Maya, Grace and Joaquim, both given up for adoption at birth. All of their lives took down very different paths, as they were adopted – or not. This story follows them as they get in touch for the first time, meet, navigate delicate paths of new sibling-hoods, all the while coping with their own internal struggles and secrets.
If it took me a moment to get accustomed to the story and to Grace’s point of view as she faces an unwanted pregnancy, gives her baby up for adoption and slowly questions herself, her adoptive parents, about her own mother who gave her up sixteen years ago. Starting with a couple of flashbacks narrative, easing us into her own story and what she had to live through, before slowly starting to get into this story, the one where she seeks her mother, finds out about her siblings and more…Far From The Tree took me a little while to get into, but once I did, it was all worth it. Robin Benway writes here a gut-wrenching contemporary about where you come from, where you fit it, what family really is, and so on. It’s a book that’s all about the people, their own journey and it was so beautiful to follow.

THREE POINTS OF VIEW, THREE VOICES AND STRUGGLES

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Told in three different point of view, we get to know three very different characters with their own quirks, their own lives. Grace seems to be the serious one, trying to cope with her own emotions as she had to give up her own child. Maya seems to be the loud one, yet trying to know where she is supposed to fit in her adoptive family of red-heads, in-between her parents, her adoptive sister and her two new siblings she finds out about. Joaquim is more of the silent one, struggling with his own secrets, balanced from one family to another since birth, almost fitting in for the first time with his new parents, scared to know where he belongs or if he can belong anywhere for real without hurting anyone in the process.
The three characters of this story had different voices, different struggles, yet they never failed at being human. Flawed, acting stupid at times, making you want to shake them a little while – they were beautifully human, changing and developing as life, as they meet each other and so on..

AMAZING SIBLINGS RELATIONSHIPS

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What I probably appreciated the most about this story, was how strong and complex the siblings relationships were. From strangers to trying to get to know each other, from closed doors to opening up to each other… As the story unfolds, Grace, Maya and Joaquim’s bond grow stronger, protective, more sibling-like every single time. It was so beautiful and heartwarming to follow as they, really, became family as they should be. Their dynamics were adorable to follow, as Joaquim handles the role of the big, protective brother, as somehow they manage to bicker in the car and turn from acting like strangers who quite don’t know what to say to each other, to siblings sharing mayonnaise and fries and having each others’ back no matter what.
Despite this story being about three adoptive children, I appreciated so much the positive parents representation in this story – especially coming from Mark and Linda, Joaquim’s β€œparents” (he is not adopted so I’m putting the β€œβ€ anyway). They were so supportive, so open to him, overall they just were the perfect parent representation we need more of in contemporaries.
Added to the family ties in the story, Far From The Tree also shows us a little bit of romance for every character. Romantic relationships as they began, from friendships to a little bit more than that (Look out for the guy named RAFE, LOVED HIM). As they ended and as they begin again. The secondary characters in this story were well-fleshed out, even if I could have used a little bit more material for some of them; I really loved how they were included, part of the whole story and not here just for the sake of it all. I appreciated how their relationship changed as new siblings came into place, how behaviors, fights and makes-ups, came around each of the characters as life changed around them.

OVERALL

Far From The Tree is a book I’d call gut-wrenching and real. It’s not really a light contemporary: it manages to deal with pretty heavy themes, from adoption to parents relationships, unwanted pregnancy and so on, and it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Yet, with the amazing cast of characters, the narration that’s simple yet captivating, it really is a beautiful book that manages to give you so many emotions you might have not expected. This story about three teenagers, finding out where they come from, who they are, where they fit in, was definitely a must-read for lovers of Robin Benway, strong family ties in their books and don’t mind a little emotion here and there.

Final rating:Β  4 drops!

A million thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, affect my opinion and review on this.

Robin Benway, Far From The Tree, Β Published by HarperTeen, October 3rd, 2017.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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, includingβ€”

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.

Do you want to read Far From The Tree? Did you read Emmy & Oliver, or another book by Robin Benway? Do you want to? (you should)

What are some great books exploring family ties? I would love some recs, so let me know in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

51 thoughts on “Review: Far From The Tree, Robin Benway

  1. i SCREAMED BC I SAW ‘ROBIN BENWAY’ AND I WAS LIKE EMMY AND OLIVER FIRST THOUGHT

    I DIDNT KNOW SHE HAD A BOOK COMING OUT IN OCTOBER I FEEL SO FAKE WHY AM I LIKE THIS
    but wow thank you for sharing otherwise i would have been living a tragedy also 11/10 review

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RIGHT?! Oh well I’m SO happy – you have to have this book on your TBR and read it the SECOND it is released. It’s so, so good – if you loved Emmy & Oliver and are all about cute characters, family vibes and everything, then DO READ IT ❀ and fangirl with me afterwaaaards πŸ˜€ ❀
      Thank you soo much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay! I’m so glad you loved Emmy & Oliver – I can’t wait for you to read that one, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for the recommendation – I haven’t read that one, I should check it out πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh this book sounds incredible Marie. πŸ™‚ ❀ I haven't read anything by Robin Benway before but I love strong family relationships and Far from the Tree seems like it has loads. Also I've never seen a book that deals with adoption in this way before. It must have been an interesting journey seeing through Grace, Maya and Joaquin's eyes as they discover their siblings and all that comes with it.
    I'll definitely be adding this book to my to-read list, the second I saw there were strong family bonds I knew I just had to read it. πŸ˜€
    Great review as well. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, Beth, you HAVE to read her books – Emmy & Oliver and this one were both so good, I feel like you could love them ❀
      It was such an interesting journey for sure – I hadn't read a book like this before and I loved seeing it unfold, as they got to know each other and everything else. I can't WAIT for you to read it ❀
      Thank you so much again, Beth ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In that case I’ll have to add them to my to-read list. They sound interesting and the fact that you’re strongly recommending them is all I need to know. πŸ˜€
        It certainly sounds unique, I can’t think of anything out there that has the same plot this one does. πŸ™‚
        That’s all right! πŸ˜€ ❀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh well who knows – if you enjoy siblings stories, you might end up liking that one! It’s quite different from the usual siblings stories out there ahah πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Trang ❀ ❀

      Like

    1. Oh yes – family ties warms my heart so, so much as well, it is one of my favorite things in books. I hope you’ll have the chance to read it ❀
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Kirsty ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. YES YES YES – oh I agree with you here, great books are the ones messing with our emotions for sure πŸ˜› I hope you’ll read this one someday and enjoy it as much as I did πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much, Sophie ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh wow, this book looks so good!! I always enjoy the gritty contemporaries more than the fluffy ones, so I’ll definitely have to put this on my TBR. Glad to hear that there is positive parents rep i–
    YA needs more of that! And the cover is GORGEOUS. 😍 Great review, and I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes – well this one was cute at times, but it was definitely more on the gritty-side, so you might enjoy it, May! I hope you will so we can talk about it ❀ ❀
      The parents rep in this was SO GREAT. Despite it being a book about kids that were adopted ahah, I especially loved Joaquim, one of the characters' parents, they were GOALS.
      Thank you so much, May ❀ ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had no idea Robin Benway had another book coming out!? This has made me so happy. I loved Emmy & Oliver so I’ll definitely be giving this book a shot. I love how this book explores topics that we don’t often see in YA, like adoption etc. The characters all sound very three-dimensional and interesting and I can’t wait to meet this Rafe guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you will LOVE Rafe, he’s the best ❀ I might love him a bit too much ahah, but he was fabulous. I wish he got more page-time.
      I really loved how this whole book talked and dealt with adoption, finding your siblings and everything. It was different from all of the other siblings-contemporaries for sure πŸ™‚ I hope you'll love it, Lois ❀
      Thank you so much ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Emmy & Oliver? I’ve been hearing about that book FOREVER — and now you’ve just convinced me to read it. πŸ˜† Far From the Tree Sounds like such a beautiful contemporary, and I’ve recently been hit with this desire to read contemporary books (probably heightened by my recent love for Maurene Goo’s I Believe In a Thing Called Love???), so this books sounds perfect!

    I have to say, when I first saw the cover and the tagline “What does it mean to be a family?” I thought this would be a cheesy book — but I’m so glad I read your review because this book sounds like it’s anything but cheesy. 😊 I used to shy away from YA contemporaries because I thought they were too fluffy, but the more I read contemporaries, the more I realize that a lot of them are wonderful stories with deep and relatable themes that are so nice to read after a heavy fantasy or nonfiction novel. This was such a nice review, and I can’t wait to read Far From the Tree! πŸ˜„πŸ“š

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh you’ve read I Believe In a Thing Called Love?! I haven’t read this book but it sounded so good, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚
      Ahah oh, this tagline really seems cheesy, but this book didn’t end up being cheesy AT ALL, it had tons of emotions and dealt with important topics, I loved it so much. I can’t wait for you to read it ❀ There are definitely more than just the fluffy contemporaries out there… I'm always here if you need more recs πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so so so glad to hear you loved this because I’m so excited for it!! I LOVE sibling stories adfjaskld and I really loved Emmy & Oliver (Although I read her spy book and didn’t like it at all?? But you win some, you lose some.) πŸ˜‚ I’m so here for siblings and like developing bonds and good parents and silent smol sad children who need loving. This calls to me. *hugs it*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She wrote a spy book?! I did not know that ahah, I guess they can’t all be winners πŸ˜‚ and YES, siblings and great parents rep and everything, I’m sure you could LOVE this, Cait. I can’t wait for you to read this ❀ ❀

      Like

  7. Amazing review as always, Marie 🌸
    Before reading your review I had no idea that this book even existed, but it sounds so good and something that I’ll really like. I’m such a sucker for the whole childhood friends trope as well as great family ties/dynamics. The fact that it is centered around adoptions is also quite interesting to me. I’m definitely adding it to my TBR xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH I’m so happy to hear it! I feel like you could love this book, it has amazing family dynamics overall and I loved it so much ❀
      Thank you, Michelle ❀ ❀

      Like

  8. I didn’t realise she had another book out! You know my feelings about Emmy and Oliver. Benway knows how to build relationships, so I can only imagine how much this one will hurt my heart. She is obviously a lady concerned with separation and being reunited.

    On the TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU you are too sweet ❀ ❀
      Emmy & Oliver was so adorable – I think you'd enjoy it? I hope you will read it and love it. It was just so…CUTE I loved i, I wanted to hug all of the characters ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I definitely agree that we need more books in YA that focus on families and family ties. I’ve read a few really good ones, but I’m always looking for more! It’s so common in YA that parents or other family members are just absent, and it gets kind of frustrating.

    I’ve read Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway when it first came out, and I loved it so much, so I’m excited to read her new book. Great review, and I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m glad you agree – it is kind of frustrating to see the lack of parents in YA books. I’m excited everytime I read a book with them present πŸ™‚
      I hope you’ll read this book soon and love it as much as Emmy & Oliver πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much, Kelly ❀

      Like

  10. Amazing review, Marie! Sounds like this was a great read for you! I haven’t heard about this book until now, but after reading your review, I feel like I must read this (just added it to my tbr!) this will also be my first book by Robin Benway!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Robin Benway’s books!!! Why haven’t I read her books yet? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. I absolutely adore contemporaries, especially if they feature strong family/sibling dynamics! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH if you love contemporaries, you HAVE to add this – and Emmy & Oliver – to your TBR. Both are fantastic and with great family dynamics. I hope you’ll love them!
      Thank you so much, Kyra ❀ ❀

      Like

  12. OK YES PLEASE to a contemporary book that’s about family ties! There aren’t enough of those! And this sounds like it was done well, even if it takes a while to get into. I really like the sound of the subject matter and the characters in particular! Great review!! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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