April 5th, 2021

Book 33 - 2019

Book 33: The Farm by Joanne Ramos - 324 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules...

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks - a luxury retreat transforming the fertility industry. There, women get the very best of everything: organic meals, fitness trainers, daily massages and big money. Provided they dedicate themselves to producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and her shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

Welcome to The Farm.

I came across The Farm in Goodreads post, adding it to my to-read list, and promptly forgetting about it. Then my boss at work got me VIP tickets to Brisbane Writer's Festival, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Joanne Ramos would be speaking about her debut novel at the festival. So I come at my reading of this book with the wonderful additional context Joanne gave at several sessions at the festival. I've also long held an interest in reproductive politics. The Farm is one of those frightfully plausible stories, that one imagines is only just around the corner: women paid ridiculous amounts of money and holed up on an estate for nine months carrying other people's babies. It's also an analysis of immigrant women, trying to support families at home and in their adoptive countries, by any means necessary. In The Farm, these women are predominately Filipino, and having grown up in Australia, with a significant Asian population and significantly more income equality, this aspect both baffled but also spoke to me: the culture of these woman, in their commitment to family was more familiar to me than the American idea of leaving everyone to fend for themselves ever will be.
The Farm's story is told through alternating perspectives: Jane, a Filipino immigrant who signs up to be a surrogate at the farm to support her infant daughter; Ate, Jane's cousin who looks after Jane's daughter while she's away; Reagan, a middle class, white woman at the Farm, who is struggling with her purpose; and Mae, the director of Golden Oaks, who is Asian herself. The perspectives of each of these women are totally justified, and yet, each of them is a frustrating in their own way. They have flaws and strengths, motivations and setbacks. They feel very real, much like the Farm itself. This is a thought provoking book, that I am pleased to say I was not able to predict the ending for (a rare thing these days). Ramos' debut novel deserves much of the praise it has received, and I'll be interested to see what she does next (she also just seems like a really lovely person having sat three feet away from her!).

33 / 50 books. 66% done!

9383 / 15000 pages. 63% done!

Currently reading:
Journey to the West
by Cheng-En Wu - 673 pages
by Neil Gaiman - 370 pages
The Umbrella Academy: Volume 2 - Dallas
by Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba - 192 pages

And coming up:
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
Look Alive Twenty-Five
by Janet Evanovich - 306 pages
  • Current Music
    Que Sera - Justice Crew