Hi Virtually Readers! It’s time for another round of A Question of Fiction, the feature that never quite goes away on this blog. We invite characters on to the blog to answer questions, and it’s usually terrifically fun (yes, really). Today we have Maya, Joaquin, and Grace, three unexpected sibilings, from Robin Benway’s exquisite book Far From the Tree. (and ngl it’s been like a month since I read this and I’m really worried that I’ve forgotten an important detail but I’ll do my best)
Interviewer: Can you guys tell me a little about your childhood?
Joaquin: Well, Maya and Grace were adopted, because they’re girls, and they’re white, and that makes it easier to be adopted. Sorry, girls, but it’s true. I grew up in a variety of foster homes. That was okay. There are good ones and bad ones.
Interviewer: yeah, I get it.
Grace: You absolutely don’t, but continue.
Interviewer: Um, well, let’s go for something a little lighter. What’s your favourite kind of cake?
Maya: Way to transition out of an awkward topic! But I’ll take the bait. I like chocolate cake, or preferably double chocolate cake. My girlfriend and I will eat it together when we need comfort.
Grace: I like the slightly weird flavours. Redcurrent red velvet, for instance.
Joaquin: I don’t know. I haven’t had a great deal of cake in my life. But one birthday my foster parents got me an icecream cake at the shop, and so I like that, I guess.
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little more about your family situation?
Grace: Back to this. Okay. So a few months ago, I…I started thinking a lot about my birth mother. What had she been going through when she gave me away? I was talking about it with my parents, and they told me about Maya and Joaquin. We emailed for a bit, then met up to look for our birth mother. We’re a strange set of siblings, and Maya has a little sister of her own, but we’re getting better at it.
Interviewer. Whoa. Okay. And did you find your mother?
Maya *winking*: that would be telling.
Interviewer: So with your family situation… could you tell me, in three or four words, what family means to you?
Grace: It means sacrifice, trust, and love.
Maya: I mostly agree with Grace, but I would add that family also means…I don’t know how to put it. Something sacred, I guess. Something that shouldn’t be broken.
Interviewer: Do you think about family differently after meeting each other?
Joaquin: Yeah. I mean, we grew up apart. It’s not like we were instant friends. But we had something in common, and realized we had to fight for it. Of course, it took some fighting each other too…
Grace: Yeah, I mean I’ve always thought of family as something more complex than mere biology, because I was adopted. But meeting these guys has reminded me that being biologically related to someone is it’s own kind of comfort. Of course, you can’t be unadopted. I wish that was possible, sometimes. But our mother, our first mother sacrificed a lot for us to have the lives we have. That’s permanent. And it’s what we have in common. I guess the other thing is that I’m still learning to make sense of that, and I don’t have all the answers, and it’s hard to say it in a straightforward manner. Parenthood, and being part of a family, is a lot more difficult than it seems when you’re young.
Interviewer: Thanks for that, Grace. We’ve talked a bit about how you guys are similar—and looking at you, I can definitely see a family resemblance. But how are the three of you different?
Maya: Well, if we exclude the obvious stuff—I’m a lesbian, Joaquin is a boy, we all have different dads—I would say that I’m a lot more rebellious than Grace and Joaquin.
Grace: But you own it. You’re like a calm rebel.
Maya: it’s because I have so much to hide.
Grace: Yeah. We all have our secrets, I guess. I like classical music, because I’m more cultured than these swines.
Joaquin, laughing : Ri-ight. I hate oranges. They really tease me about it.
Interviewer: Well, thanks for the interview! I had a good time.
Grace: Yeah, so did we.
Have you guys read Far from the Tree? What did you think of this? And are there any books which write really poignantly about family that you’ve read?