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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Far from the Tree" by Robin Benway

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Far from the Tree" by Robin Benway

  1. The novel follows three siblings, Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, who were separated at birth and raised in different families. How does their individual upbringing shape their identities and perspectives? In what ways do they navigate their sense of belonging and connection to their biological family versus their adoptive families?

  2. Discuss the role of family in the novel. How do the dynamics within each family—Grace's, Maya's, Joaquin's, and later, Maya and Grace's birth mother's family—impact the characters' development and relationships? How do these dynamics reflect broader themes of love, acceptance, and forgiveness?

  3. Explore the theme of identity in the novel. How do the characters grapple with questions of who they are, where they come from, and where they belong? How does their search for identity evolve throughout the story?

  4. Parenthood is a central theme in the novel, explored through various perspectives: the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the siblings themselves. How does the novel depict different forms of parenthood, and what insights does it offer into the complexities of family relationships and responsibilities?

  5. Discuss the character development of Grace, Maya, and Joaquin throughout the novel. How do they grow and change as they come to terms with their past, confront their fears and insecurities, and forge connections with one another?

  6. The novel explores themes of loss and grief, particularly through the experiences of the characters who have been separated from their biological families. How do Grace, Maya, and Joaquin cope with their feelings of loss, and what strategies do they employ to heal and move forward?

  7. Consider the significance of the title, "Far from the Tree." How does it reflect the central themes of the novel, including the idea of familial connections and differences, as well as the journey of self-discovery and acceptance?

  8. Discuss the role of communication and honesty in the novel. How do secrets and misunderstandings affect the characters' relationships, and how do they navigate the challenges of opening up to one another and sharing their truths?

  9. How does the novel challenge stereotypes and assumptions about family, adoption, and identity? In what ways does it shed light on the complexities and nuances of these experiences?

  10. Reflect on the ending of the novel. How do the characters' journeys come full circle, and what lessons do they learn about love, forgiveness, and the meaning of family?

Robin Benway was born in Orange County, California, and grew up in Huntington Beach. She attended college at both New York University and UCLA, where she studied English literature. Benway initially pursued a career in publishing, working in various roles within the industry.

Her writing career began with the publication of her debut novel, "Audrey, Wait!", in 2008, which received positive reviews and garnered attention for its humor and relatable characters. Benway continued to write contemporary young adult novels, often exploring themes of friendship, family, and identity.

In 2013, Benway's novel "Also Known As" was awarded the prestigious National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The book follows the story of a teenage spy grappling with the complexities of high school and espionage.

Benway's other notable works include "Emmy & Oliver" (2015), a contemporary novel about friendship and first love, and "Far from the Tree" (2017), which won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. "Far from the Tree" explores themes of family, adoption, and identity through the story of three siblings who were separated at birth.

Throughout her career, Benway has been praised for her authentic characters, emotional depth, and ability to tackle complex themes in accessible ways. She continues to write and publish novels for young adult readers.


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Westwood, MA 02090
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