The Farmby Published 07 May 2019
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.
The Farm Reviews
The Farm is a very interesting and unique book and Joanne is very talented, the topics within the book are very delicate and so well written within these pages!
The Farm is a place where young women are recruited to become surrogate mothers for wealthy clients! Their life is somehow managed by the owners of the Farm and the orders are very strict! Jane is a single mother from Philippines, she sings up at the Farm and the things are very interesting to read after this part!
The Farm explores so many interesting things, starting with the race, different cultures and Ramos is very magnificent when it comes to emotional parts, I really felt for Jane when she starts to miss her daughter after spending time in the Farm!
The story follows and three other women, Mae is a cooperative executive she is really ambitious in her work! Ate Evelyn who is also from Philippine she is tasked to look after Jane's daughter, and Reagan which I loved so much as a character!
When Jane is carrying the baby she mist live at Golden Oaks where she'll be paid a large sum of money, the whole concept of the book is very engaging and in some parts and suspenseful! It has a fabulous readable narrator and while going at the end lots of amazing stories unfold and it gets very provoking and we highly recommend you to read it!!
Would you be willing to give up your life for a few seasons? A relationship, family, education? What if you could spend up to nine months at a gorgeous locale with all of your needs cared for by a devoted team? Well, some women make this very decision to become Hosts for those who need surrogates. They become temporary guests at The Farm, called Golden Oaks.
Mostly immigrant women are involved here and have very little choice when it comes to this difficult decision. Among these women we meet Jane. She was a struggling single mother with an excellent job as a baby nurse. Due to extreme circumstances, Jane is forced to find other employment because of an unfortunate event at her most recent job, With another baby nurse, her cousin Ate, to help care for her young daughter, Jane becomes pregnant as part of her new employment. An incentivized Host. Carrying a baby for wealthy Clients.
Strict rules enforce secrecy. The Hosts only job is to follow a course set in front of them that will allow them to carry to term in the safest, healthiest way possible. Whether or not the money for acting as a Host is worth it compares to the emotional toll placed upon these young women. Will the emotional attachment these women cope with be enough of a trade off to have many women, from several other walks of life, be something that becomes a secure part of the future?
The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of Mae, another powerful character as it was she who designed the surrogacy program. As mentioned, most of the women who become Hosts are immigrants, so race and financial inequality are explored. Truly makes one think. As a mother, I don’t think I could give up my child no matter the financial gain.
I appreciated The Farm very much. I liked it and I disliked it, but I am most certainly glad to have read it. That is why this difficult book rates five stars. It is by far, completely unlike most of what I read. Kind of made me think a bit of The Handmade’s Tale. This book provides a provocative look into a future when you can simply place an ad for things such as having babies simply for financial gain.
The Farm explores racial inequality in a different world. This book further touches on the difficult things forced upon these women. Their freedom is definitely stifled. Again, is it all worth it? A bit futuristic. A bit science fiction. A bit horror (it would be spoilery to say why). Joanne Ramos has truly hit it out of the park. This debut novel is something that will remain with me for a long time.
Many thanks to NetGalley (although I noticed this book via Shelf Awareness Pro) and to Random House for this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
*As this book is slated for release May 7, 2019, I will publish this on my blog on or after April 15, 2019.
Please see all of my reviews on my blog at www robinlovesreading.com.
As an avid reader, I can certainly recognize why this book is receiving the hype that it has been getting. The focus on women's bodies, their role as mothers and the business side of pregnancy have been and continue to be very relevant issues. In fact, it makes The Farm a really great candidate for your next bookclub night. I just don't find myself on that hype train.
A story narrated by several different female characters and I wasn't able to connect with them. Actually, that isn't REALLY true, I actually did find Mae's storyline fascinating and she was such a strongly written character. I felt that I could question her ethics and role in this whole baby making business a heck of a lot more than other characters. It was Jane and Regan- the two characters I believe I was supposed to have a lot of empathy for - I just didn't!
Given the fact that I found myself continuing to shift this book down on my reading priority list, but did enjoy some elements in the story, it was a 3 rating for me.
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date 07/05/19
Goodreads Review 11/05/19
“The Farm”... called “Golden Oaks”, is a surrogacy Farm. Women are impregnated with sperm to host a child. Most of the ‘host women’ are black Caribbean immigrant women. They need jobs - the money is good. The clients are wealthy and white.
It’s an intriguing story - but the writing often felt motionless and toneless. I kept wanting to add some Technicolor.
Jane, ( who left her own baby behind), Lisa, ( feisty rebel of the bunch), and Reagan are all hosts on the farm. Each went through intensive vetting before they were selected. Other main characters are Ate, ( too old to be a host mother- but had been a master Nanny Queen in her prime), and Mae. (Ms. Wealthy-bossy of ‘Golden Oaks)...
For nine months the host women are medically monitored. At the end of nine months - the infant gets handed over to the client whose embryo they carry.
The host women are offered many spa benefits - but also potential penalties.
Topic Themes explored are race, class, inequality, wealth, poverty, immigration, motherhood, trust, friendships, personal freedom, rules, sacrifice, self expression, exploitation, manipulation, childcare, big business, greed, fear and isolation, radical politics, and morality, with an all women dominated cast of characters.
The main female leads and the supporting females all have something to say. At times - there was not much difference between any of them, other than we knew who the HAVES and HAVE NOTS were.
I wanted to like this more than I did. The ending is weak and the epilogue just felt long and senseless.
At the same time - I honesty felt this book had potential.
‘The Farm’, itself.....had me thinking ( not particularly with all the stereotyping and the far-fetched scenarios)....but I do think it’s possible there are surrogacy home - retreats or otherwise. With integrity, these places could be a supportive environment for those serious about surrogacy.
Thank you Random House Publishing, Netgalley, and Joanne Ramos
There has been a lot of hype surrounding Joanne Ramos's debut novel, so I must begin by saying: yes, this is one of those rare occasions that the noise was completely justified. Many have described it as a contemporary of Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale, but given the dire situation the world currently finds itself in The Farm is not a million miles away from reality.
So forget what you've been told this is a stunning, complex work of fiction with its roots firmly based in real-world events. Make no mistake, it is a challenging read and brings forth many philosophical, moral and ethical questions which I always appreciate in my fiction. It is so well constructed that you simply cannot fail to be drawn in from very early on. I fully expect this to rapidly become a bestseller and to leave its mark on readers as it did with me.
The effort that has gone into making this a multifaceted, powerful and searingly emotive tale holding many important messages for its readers show that this has been a labour of love for Ms Ramos. We have been warned for several years now about the beginning of the end for people employed in low-skilled jobs as a direct result of the emergence of technology which can carry out those jobs with increased efficiency whilst negating the need to pay a wage or salary. This means those who are made redundant must find an alternative method of making a living, but with little to no expertise, this leaves few jobs open to them.
And that's where Golden Oaks, a facility that houses surrogates for the duration of their pregnancy, comes in. Catering to the uber-wealthy the hosts' lives are controlled in every possible way from conception right through to birth.
Ramos uses this divisive set-up to comment on a variety of increasingly important topics, including the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, technological advancement as a double edge sword, surrogacy, reproductive rights, exploitation, class, race and immigration. She manages with considerable aplomb to show just how lost we've become as a species, but most of all, it signifies just how quickly the famed American dream can turn into a hellish nightmare.
Each of the female inmates is intricately developed as well as three-dimensional, and each holds a different perspective which helps make the story fully rounded. One of the parts that really stood out for me was the fact that these affluent Americans seeking a surrogate will pay significantly more for a white host who is well educated than any other race. Sadly, this seems to be reflective of our reality to some extent where some individuals in society perpetuate the ugly idea of white supremacy, whether intentional or incidental is beside the point.
The Farm is an ominous, claustrophobic, character-driven reality check and an astounding and thoroughly accomplished debut. Thought-provoking, beautifully written and incredibly original, Ramos is a master storyteller who has disguised this intelligent and eminently readable piece, which could be perceived as a warning, as fictional, but given that most of what happens in the book is already happening in reality - just how fictitious is it? Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.