BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Farm by Joanne Ramos [in Booklist]

New mother Jane is a struggling Filipina immigrant desperate to do the best for her daughter. Jane’s older cousin Ate has worked tirelessly for decades to provide for her children on the other side of the world. Mae, born to a Chinese immigrant father and a disgruntled white mother, has tenaciously earned her position of power and privilege. Reagan has always been comfortable, which seems to provoke a liberal indignance on behalf of less-fortunate others. These four women’s lives intersect at Golden Oaks, a luxury destination two-and-a-half-hours north of Manhattan where diligently screened “Hosts” gestate other people’s children for (exorbitant) pay.

Jane and Reagan are such Hosts – Jane because Ate encouraged, then enabled her by promising to care for her daughter Amalia; Reagan because she’s designated “premium,” as in white, educated, advantaged. Mae is the executive in charge, ensuring favorable outcomes for crème-de-la-crème clients.

The clash of race, ethics, class, and ambition drives Ramos’ scintillating debut, made even more impressive by Fran de Leon’s compelling narration, in which she gifts the characters with distinct tones, accents, and personalities. That both author and reader share Filipina American backgrounds adds enhanced empathic rapport. That both prove to be such accomplished literary first-timers signals promising future endeavors, as well.

Review: “Media,” Booklist Online, September 13, 2019

Readers: Adult

Published: 2019


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