For anyone about to become a parent
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
By Andrew Solomon
This is not so much a gift as a life-changer, not least because it chronicles how offspring who grow up in unexpected ways hold the power to change their parents’ lives. What does it mean to have a baby? The word “reproduction” is misleading, because an individual doesn’t replicate. Parents create a new being, one who might be deaf, a dwarf, with down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disabilities, a prodigy, a result of rape, turn to crime, or transgender. Solomon devotes a chapter to each of these variations on the theme of humanity, interviewing more than 300 families in the process and documenting their lives in well-written and interconnected case studies. The result is a whole new way to look at what is “normal” and what exactly “love” is.