The Farm, by Joanne Ramos

13 May
the farm joanne ramos

Two of Five Stars

I know writing a book is really really hard, so sometimes it really kills me to write negative reviews, especially when there is a lot of good in a book. But I just can’t get past this book’s weaknesses. There is so much potential in this book that I’m ANGRY about the weaknesses.

It’s a fantastic idea for a story, and the author has talent. It was amazing to read about all the different levels of haves and have-nots. No matter how poor you are, someone else always has it worse. No matter how much money you have, someone else has more. The stories of all these different women really bring this home, including how even the lowest level of “have” can exploit those under them.

But the premise of the story is absolutely unbelievable, or at least the author doesn’t give us any reason to believe it. The story takes place in a “surrogate farm” where pregnant surrogates live while gestating the babies of the rich. This is a somewhat believable situation except that the women are actually held prisoner there with no access to any one or any thing. Their cell phones are taken away – Why?? Their wallets are taken away! They are not allowed visitors except in rare cases, even if those visitors might be their own children. They can’t go anywhere. Their mail and email are read and their phone calls monitored! And as far as the reader can tell they are left with absolutely nothing to do all day except eat, sleep and exercise.

What could go wrong, right? Maybe I could believe these women would accept this if they were all poor, uneducated women from the Philippines like Jane is, but many of them are rich Ivy-league white women. Yet we are also to believe some of these women give away more than one year of their young lives to birth multiple babies.

I don’t buy this. I don’t buy that any of this would be legal, I don’t buy the women would stand for it, I don’t buy that a young women would do it more than once, I don’t buy that there wouldn’t have been SEVERAL women escaping and causing problems every single day. (I’m not speaking of surrogacy itself, only how the “Farm” is run in the book and how the women are treated)

If the author had given me something to hold on to, this book could have been chilling. If it was set in a foreign country where women have no rights, instead of NEW YORK. Or if it was clearly set in the future after the rest of our rights had been taken away. This could have been a companion to the Handmaid’s Tale (although I am in no way comparing this book to Margaret Atwood level of writing).

So I am angry, and honestly sort of angry at the author for putting me in this position. I’m mad at her editor and publisher for not telling her to just add a couple lines to set this book in some other place or some other time – not NEW YORK. This book could have been fantastic, it could have been creepy and chilling and terrifying. The author has it in her to write that kind of book. But the unbelievability of the main premise here just had me shouting at every action “THIS MAKES NO SENSE! THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! THERE’S NO REASON FOR ANY OF THIS!”

So it gets 2 stars. Two stars for a solid idea, -3 stars for missing it completely.

P.S. A pregnant women leaving a building is NOT KIDNAPPING. I mean, come on.

Many thanks as always to NetGalley and Random House for kindly giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Fingers crossed for next time.

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