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Far from the tree

2013/08/28

TL;DR: An impressive monumental work; read it if you have the guts

A good friend lent me a copy of “Far from the tree” to read. After reading the introduction (entitled Son) and the first chapter (Deaf) I told him “I understand why you gave this to me; I do not understand why you chose to read it”.

This is a book about children and their parents. About children that “fall far from the tree” and how their parents deal with what the author calls “a chronic state of sorrow” in their struggle to provide for their children’s needs. It is also a book on patterns Identity. If you are in the business of selling identity access management products you owe it to yourself to read the introduction of this book. You will understand that what you sell is not about identity at all. You will make more careful use of the word; at least when you come and sell to me.

The chapters of the book deal with the Deaf, Dwarf, Down Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, Disability, Prodigies, Rape, Crime and Transgender. As I said the book is about patterns for in the 10 years that it took the author to finish it, through his extensive research and interviews he was able to locate patterns in behaviors. To this point the book is helpful to computer scientists for we abstract in order to be precise and we see this in a completely different domain than we are used to. I admit to not reading all the chapters. I read Deaf, Autism, Schizophrenia because I have some familiarity with them. I also read the introduction (“Son”) and epilogue (Father). Why they are named as such is a spoiler.

This is one of the best non fiction books I have ever read. I do not know whether I can recommend this to someone else or not. This is a tough book with real stories and struggles that break your heart. You have been warned. Even I as I was reading the following lines was not prepared to face the reality of them due to an accident two days later:

“You’ve had the star quarterback. He’s run over by a truck, breaks every limb in his body. Your hope now is not that he’ll be a star quarterback, but that he will walk again.”

Like I said, read it if you have the guts. It will help you better understand others and yourself. It will teach you respect in ways you never thought you needed.

Thank you X for lending this to me.

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