Far From the Tree

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It's Homecoming night and Grace and Max should be putting the final touches on the formal gown and the rented tux and posing for the photos to be reminisced over in future decades.  They aren't.  Grace is in the obstetrics ward giving birth to her baby and Max is being crowned Homecoming King at the dance with a date other than Grace.

How do you get into this situation?  Everybody can pretty much answer that one.  How do you go forward after this situation is a different story and for Grace, it's made even more complicated by the fact that her own mother gave her up for adoption when she was young and now Grace is going to give her daughter up to a "wonderful couple" as well.

Across town, Maya, she of the brown skin and dark curls, is cracking her sarcastic jokes, talking too much when she's nervous, daily walking past the family photo gallery of redheads all but one, listening to her adopted parents fight, snuggling with the one person who understands, her girlfriend Claire, and beginning to discover empty wine bottles in her mother's bedroom closet.

In a third world we meet Joaquin.  He has been on a carousel of foster families and has landed with Mark and Linda.  Joaquin's girlfriend, Birdie, is the force of stability in his life.  He trusts no one, not even himself.

What these three teens don't know is they share a mother.  They are brother and sisters.  As individuals they have mountains to climb and now they're going to have a look at what it's like to have family around you...people who love you and people who are connected to you forever no matter what.

This one is special.  Robin Benway seems to "be" all of these three characters.  She gets into their heads and takes you on the emotional journey of each one as they are struggling to deal with their own issues and as they struggle to connect with each other and the essential people in their lives.

When life has knocked you down a few times, it's hard to believe in the good stuff.  It's hard to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop..the real shoe..the one that hurts.  Beautifully portrayed with heart and hope, we watch the characters strike out desperately at the people around them.  It's a defense. What they want more than anything in the world is to love someone and to be loved by someone.  Their mother gave them away.  Is it possible there is someone else who wouldn't?

These are three stories that will resonate with every one of us who holds those same fears. You don't have to have had a baby as a teenager or to have been a foster child to empathize with and recognize the fears these kids hold so painfully and desperately inside.  Expect the book to find you and your own "stuff" a few times.  This author understands the journey and hasn't forgotten it.  She lays it out there for you to remember or for you to begin.  Insightful.  Empathetic. Caring. Compassionate.

256 pages        9780062330628    Ages 14 and up

(teenage pregnancy, minimal drug use)

Plot:  Character driven

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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Perfect for fans of NBC's "This Is Us," Robin Benway’s beautiful interweaving story of three very different teenagers connected by blood explores the meaning of family in all its forms—how to find it, how to keep it, and how to love it.

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, including—

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.

Don't miss this moving novel that addresses such important topics as adoption, teen pregnancy, and foster care.--from the publisher

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