The Farm by Joanne Ramos
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Published in: 2019
Reviewed by: Book Worm
This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
Baby boom or baby bust?
Synopsis from Goodreads: Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.
Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: This was a different book from the one I was expecting to read but in a good way. I was expecting a dystopian story about women held against their will for the purposes of breeding perfect babies this was however a much more subtle story about motherhood, about female independence and the tough choices faced by women across society.
The book is told from the perspective of several female characters and as the story progresses you learn what motivates each of them and how they came to be at the point they are at. What I liked about the book is that it is not black and white every character is fighting their own battles and it is impossible to judge them for doing what they believe is best.
What this book does really well is to highlight the struggle faced by female migrants in America, particularly those from the Philippines. Through the characters of Ate and Jane the reader is shown different perspectives of the migrant experience.
Ate has left her children in the Philippines to work in America to support them, ironically she does this by looking after the new born children of rich American parents, Ate lives frugally in shared accommodation only spending her money to build houses in the Philippines and to provide for the children she left behind. Ate has not been in the same country as her children for years but there is no doubt they are the most important thing to her.
Jane has left the Philippines married in haste and is now a single mum bringing up her daughter alone, due to some bad decisions her chances of employment are looking dicey so she agrees to be a surrogate at “the Farm” leaving her new born daughter for nine months in exchange for a reward that will set them both up for life. Once at the Farm however she realises that letting go is harder than she imagined.
On the flip side of the coin what sort of women are looking for these surrogates? In the first place they have money as the Farm fees are not cheap, some of them are just too posh to push, others are too old to conceive themselves, some have illnesses that prevent conception and some have made the decision that pregnancy will hold them back in their careers. While a lot of people will think some of these women sound selfish the book manages to show their motivation in a sympathetic way, in reality what these women want is the world that men have, the ability to have a child without having all the negativity that falls on women in the work place.
This is a clever book as even the female characters we are primed to dislike come of being sympathetic in some shape or form.
Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thought provoking book, to anyone who believes the world is not black and white and to anyone interested in what life looks like for the “invisible” women in society (the cooks, the cleaners, the nannies etc).
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