The Farm by Joanne Ramos, 5 Stars

I read recently that Kanye and Kim are having a fourth child. Good lord. It’s not that I begrudge them the joy (and work) of children, it’s just how ridiculous they have to be about the whole thing. That somehow we should all care more because the baby will be Entertainment Weekly royalty? But I guess it’s not the baby’s fault. None of us choose our parents.

But just like baby #3, Kim and Kayne have chosen to have their next baby via surrogate. On one hand, it kind of feels like cheating. Getting to skip the 9 months of pregnancy and have that newborn place into your arms fully able to invest all those sleepless nights into that child because your body isn’t healing and recuperating from a major event itself. But please, they probably have a baby nurse anyways.

And I don’t know their circumstances, maybe it’s hard or impossible for Kim after two to carry her own children. And honestly, it’s non of my business. Although Entertainment Weekly reporting on it kind of makes me less nosy anyways. And it is interesting.

Their story, and others like it that we seem everywhere these days is exactly what makes Joanne Ramos’ novel, The Farm, so timely. And not only was it relevant, but I loved it!

From the Publisher:

Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private 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.

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 own 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 delivery.

Heartbreaking, gripping, 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.

My Review:

Wow, The Farm, is a stunning debut. At the beginning of the book, we meet Jane, a young immigrant and single mom from the Philippines who is struggling to try and give herself and her daughter a life in America. And even as she tries to do everything right, she still finds herself barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck and hoping each morning she will have work to pay the bills.

Reagan, like Jane, is young and uncertain of her future. But, unlike Jane, she is American, comes from a wealthy family and holds a prestigious degree from a top university. Reagan doesn’t need the money, but what she does need is purpose. A true millennial, huh?

We also meet Mia, a first-generation Chinese woman who has grown up with all the privilege. She holds a degree from a highly prestigious university and she and her husband both hold important, high-paying jobs.

Three very different women with distinct backgrounds all meet at Golden Oaks, a luxury retreat for very specially chosen surrogates who serve the rich and powerful. On one hand, it seems crazy that a place like this would exist. On the other, I seriously think a similar place could exist.

The disturbing part is not that these women have volunteered nine months to help someone else, and make a good chunk of change. The disturbing part is that at Golden Oaks, the baby’s health and viability are more important than that of the mother’s. The baby is a hot commodity and has a high value in the marketplace, thus is put first.

Ramos does an amazing job developing each of the women that come together at Golden Oaks. The result is a incredibly-written story that feels genuine, and characters that readers can really identify with. After this debut, I’m really excited to see what Ramos will write next.

Special thanks to Random House and Netgalley for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out May 7, 2019. #thefarm #netgalley

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