The time has come for yet another book review, and I’m over-the-moon to share with you all a new favorite novel of mine!
The best part? It’s not a classic, but a contemporary fiction novel! I know, you all are probably just as shocked and flabbergasted as I am.
Without further delay, let’s talk about Joanne Ramos’ debut novel, The Farm.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos is a multi-perspective following four main characters – Reagan, Jane, Mae, and Ate. The story centers around Golden Oaks, a lavish and luxurious surrogacy center for the wealthy and rich around the world. Surrogates, better known as “Hosts,” are promised big money for carrying these billionaires’ babies and get to live and rest in the comfort of Golden Oaks’ lush resort.
However, Golden Oaks almost seems too good to be true. As the reader follows Reagan and Jane, the new hosts of Golden Oaks, and Mae, the manager of the resort, Golden Oaks’ perfect narrative and image begins to unravel, revealing the flaws, racism, and overall corruption of the system.
As you can tell from the title, I absolutely adored Ramos’ novel and gave it 5/5 stars! I found the concept unique, relevant, and excellently executed – the writing was also phenomenal.
I’m usually not one to enjoy multiple perspectives in novels, but Ramos’ structure and writing style allowed all of the narratives to flow together nicely and didn’t harbor my reading experience or jumble up my thoughts. Quite honestly, I don’t think The Farm would be as powerful with a single narrator, omnipotent or not.
What I loved most about The Farm is the way it tackled race and gender issues, as well as it’s commentary on capitalism and how both race and gender play their part within the System. Reagan, a white woman from the suburbs, and Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, join Golden Oaks as Hosts at the same time. As they are introduced and throughout the story, Ramos (also a woman from the Philippines) depicts the cultural differences between the two characters and how their backgrounds effect their role and pay at Golden Oaks, clearly showing how prominent businesses capitalize from white privilege and undermine/exploit immigrants and minorities.
The Farm is also an example of how women are often forgotten/misplaced during pregnancies. The surrogates of Golden Oaks are put on strict schedules and under stern supervision – mandatory fitness routines, specific diets, etc. – as if they are not humans with changing bodies. The Hosts are only allowed what is “good for the baby,” neglecting what is also good for themselves and their own mental health. Visitation from friends and family members are not allowed, all of their emails and phone calls are monitored, and they are unable to leave Golden Oaks without permission from their clients, who are usually never around in the first place. To me, the Hosts were almost treated like children or vessels; all any of the workers care about is the baby forming inside of them.
Having friends that have shared their pregnancy experiences with me, it really upset me that the extremes of Golden Oaks are not so fantastical after all. Postpartum depression and other mental health problems associated with pregnancy are often from similar experiences as the Hosts in Golden Oaks, whether the women are surrogates or the ones carrying their own child. The Farm made me think of the role of the “perfect mom,” and how women strive to become the “perfect mom,” even though the perfect mom doesn’t exist. If women don’t fit this role of the “perfect mom,” they are often attacked and harassed by others who think they are better or can do better, forgetting that each individual is just that – an individual. No two stories are the same, and nobody is perfect. Motherhood is a difficult and complex job to take on, and all any mother can do is their best.
If you take anything from this review or book, remember to be kind to everyone because all anyone is trying to do is make it in this world. No matter their gender, race, or class, everyone deserves to be treated kindly, respectfully, and equally.
Joanne Ramos’ The Farm has become one of my favorite books of all time because of the way Ramos’ confronts these issues head-on. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t particularly love the ending, but it is a realistic one. I’m not saying it’s not a happy ending, but it’s not the romanticized ending one might expect, and I think that it is more powerful than a completely fixed ending because that’s not how the real world works. As Mae says towards the end of the novel, sometimes we must master “the art of turning life’s lemons into lemonade.”
Thank you all so much for letting me blabber on about how wonderful Joanne Ramos’ The Farm truly is – a literary masterpiece, if you will. I hope you all love this book as much as I do!
If you’ve read The Farm, I would love to hear your thoughts! If you haven’t read Ramos’ novel, I highly encourage you to. It’s breathtaking, spectacular, and everything in between.
What have you been reading lately or plan to read soon? I would love to know!
Until next time, I wish you all wonderful reads and a joyful life!
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