Far From the Tree Summary & Study Guide

Robin Benway
This Study Guide consists of approximately 61 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Far From the Tree.
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Far From the Tree Summary & Study Guide Description

Far From the Tree Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Far From the Tree by Robin Benway.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Benaway, Robin. Far From the Tree. Harper Teen, 2017.

When Grace becomes pregnant at 16, she must make the most difficult decision of her life, and give up her baby for adoption. She searches for a good family for her baby, who she calls Peach, but often feels guilty about her decision. She gives birth on the same night as her high school homecoming dance, and resents that the father of the child, Max, was getting crowned homecoming king while their baby was being born. Max and his family want nothing to do with the baby and renounce all rights to her. After giving Peach up for adoption, Grace feels an empty space in her life, and desires to feel tethered to someone again. This motivates her to search for her biological mother, who had also given her up for adoption to her current family. Grace's parents reveal to her that they know very little about her birth mother, Melissa Taylor, but that she has two siblings, Maya and Joaquin, who live nearby. Grace sends Maya an email asking if she would be willing to meet.

Maya agrees to meeting her and Grace's family visit Maya's large mansion home. Maya and Grace connect because of their shared sense of sarcasm, but Maya has a darker sense of humor. Maya feels like she is a misfit in her own home, because her adoptive parents are redheads and had a redheaded baby shortly after they adopted her. Maya sticks out as the odd one out because of her dark hair. Maya resents and is jealous of her younger sister Lauren. Maya and Grace send an email to Joaquin, to bring all three siblings together. They meet him at the arts center where he works and Grace is so moved by the reunion that she is brought to tears. Maya is moved that they all look like one another, and their family resemblance makes her feel as if she finally belongs. When Grace asks if they would like to find their biological mother, both Maya and Joaquin refuse, feeling unwanted by her. Grace will not tell her siblings that she was pregnant, for fear that they may judge her for abandoning Peach.

Joaquin struggles with feelings of insecurity because he is almost eighteen and has never been adopted. He wonders if his mother never visited him in foster care because he is undesirable. Eventually, his current foster parents offer him adoption, but he does not respond immediately. He thinks that he does not want to hurt them the way he hurt the Buchanans, who had adopted him and returned him into foster care when they could not deal with his tantrums and violent outbursts. Joaquin eventually breaks up with his girlfriend Birdie, because he thinks he cannot give her what she wants in life, because she comes from a stable and loving family, and he is not enough for her. Joaquin visits a therapist, Ana, who ties to make him understand that he too deserves love and a family. He opens up to Maya and Grace who are also mutually supportive.

Grace attempts to return to high school after giving birth, but she is bullied by Adam, who plays a recording of a baby crying to mock her. She is also called a slut and a baby mama. Grace responds by punching Adam several times in the face and running off to hide in a bathroom. She is comforted by a new kid in school, Rafe, who eventually becomes good friends with her. She will not return to school until her senior year. In the meantime, she visits her siblings once a week and meets with Rafe while he is working at the mall. One day, her parents confront her about dating a boy too soon and she snaps at them. She feels judged and controlled by her parents' expectations of her. Her parents suggest that they go to family therapy. In therapy she tells them that she wants to be supported in her search to find her biological mother.

Maya's parents tell her that they are getting a divorce and she is fearful that they will no longer love her, because she is adopted. Her mother is an alcoholic who hides empty wine bottles around the house. One day, Maya and Lauren find their mother bleeding with a concussion on the bathroom floor and take her to the hospital. She enters rehab shortly afterward. Around this time, Maya also breaks up with her girlfriend Claire, because she feels as if Claire is not supportive enough during her parent's divorce. Claire still loves Maya and tries to comfort her when she learns her mother is in rehab, but Maya stubbornly refuses her. Maya has difficulty expressing her emotions and responds with sarcasm. Joaquin and Grace provide her the support she needs throughout this time.

Even though Joaquin tells his parents that he does not want to be adopted, they buy him a used car so that he could more easily visit his sisters. He is deeply moved, but suspects that he will eventually hurt his parents and becomes antagonistic toward them. Unwilling to accept that he deserves to be loved, he pushes his parents away in several heated arguments. During one of their weekly sibling visits, Grace finally admits that she had a baby who she gave up for adoption. Seeing her pain convinces Maya and Joaquin to find their birth mother. Using a return address that Maya found in a letter sent by Melissa, their biological mother, they decide to pay a surprise visit to her house. Upon their visit, they are greeted by Melissa's sister, Jessica, who tells them that their mother died in a truck accident. She also provides them with a security deposit box key that Melissa set aside for Joaquin.

The siblings find pictures of Melissa with her children in the safety deposit box. This moves Joaquin, who now recognizes his mother loved him all along. The siblings return to their homes with a renewed sense of belonging and family. Maya accepts her mother's alcoholism recovery and is happy to expect her home. Joaquin decides that he wants to be adopted by his loving parents, and they have an adoption and eighteenth birthday celebration. Finally, Grace visits her baby Peach and her adoptive parents and reflects on the physical similarities between Peach and her siblings. Once the siblings feel that they deserve love and to belong in a family, their perspective on their adoptive parents change for the better and they are able to let love into their lives.

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