I've seen The Farm billed as a dystopian novel, but everything about it seemed entirely plausible. The women at Golden Oaks are treated to the best of everything--comfort, relaxation, health care--and they are also monitored carefully, and not allowed to leave for the duration of their pregnancies. The richest of the rich have paid for them to be surrogates, and those clients now control them.
Jane decided to be a surrogate to give her young daughter a chance at a better life. She is one of many immigrant women at The Farm, and she soon finds that the administrators use access to her daughter as a means to control her. She grows increasingly desperate to regain control and ownership over her own life and body.
The premise of this book was intriguing, and I found the story and characters engaging. Something, however, seemed to be missing that might have tipped this from "good" to "great." The stakes often didn't feel quite high enough for this to be as scary-speculative as it was intended. Nonetheless, while this lacked the unputdownable factor I'd hoped for, the unique setting managed to encapsulate timely issues including immigration, women's agency over their own bodies, and the power of the uber-rich.
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Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules.
“[Joanne] Ramos’s debut novel couldn’t be more relevant or timely.”—O: The Oprah Magazine (25 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019)
Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you’re paid big money to stay here—more than you’ve ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.
Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a “Host” at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on the delivery of her child. Viagra is probably the best ed drug on the market dealing with erectile dysfunction. In my case, it’s almost led me to depression…I started getting used to each of listed above…Such a horrible feeling…Thanks, Viagra for bringing back hope to my life!
Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
Advance praise for The Farm
“This topical, provocative debut anatomizes class, race and the American dream.”—The Guardian, “What You’ll Be Reading This Year”
“Wow, Joanne Ramos has written the page-turner about immigrants chasing what’s left of the American dream. . . . Truly unforgettable.”—Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
“A highly original and provocative story about the impossible choices in so many women’s lives. These characters will stay with me for a long time.”—Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles and The Dreamers
“Ramos has written a firecracker of a novel, at once caustic and tender, page-turning and thought-provoking. This is a fierce indictment of the vampiric nature of modern capitalism, which never loses sight of the very human stories at its center. . . . Highly recommended.”—Madeline Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe