The Farm: Book summary and reviews of The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm

by Joanne Ramos

The Farm by Joanne Ramos X
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
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Book Summary

Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules.

Nestled in New York's Hudson Valley is a luxury retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, personal fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you're paid big money to stay here—more than you've ever dreamed of. The catch? For nine months, you cannot leave the grounds, your movements are monitored, and you are cut off from your former life while you dedicate yourself to the task of producing the perfect baby. For someone else.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, is in desperate search of a better future when she commits to being a "Host" at Golden Oaks—or the Farm, as residents call it. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her family, Jane is determined to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on the delivery of her child.

Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Excellent, both as a reproductive dystopian narrative and as a social novel about women and class." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An alarmingly realistic look at the power of wealth and access buoyed by clear, compelling storytelling and appealing, if not always likable, characters." - Booklist (starred review)

"A surefire hit with book groups, this striking novel will also appeal strongly to readers who like dystopian touches and ethically complicated narratives." - Publishers Weekly

"[Joanne] Ramos's debut novel couldn't be more relevant or timely." - O:The Oprah Magazine (25 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2019)

"This topical, provocative debut anatomizes class, race and the American dream." - The Guardian, "What You'll Be Reading This Year"

"Wow, Joanne Ramos has written the page-turner about immigrants chasing what's left of the American dream... . Truly unforgettable." - Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success

"A highly original and provocative story about the impossible choices in so many women's lives. These characters will stay with me for a long time." - Karen Thompson Walker, New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles and The Dreamers

"Ramos has written a firecracker of a novel, at once caustic and tender, page-turning and thought-provoking. This is a fierce indictment of the vampiric nature of modern capitalism, which never loses sight of the very human stories at its center... . Highly recommended." - Madeline Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe

This information about The Farm was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Becky H

Exploitation or a Godsend
An idea – pay poor women large sums to be the surrogate for busy, important, wealthy, lazy women who want their own child, but don’t want the bother, time commitment, inconvenience of actually bearing them.
Ramos has written a novel that presents that idea carried out to the fullest extent. The Farm is a lap of luxury prison for the surrogates. Reagan, an idealist asserting her independence from her father but controlling father, Jane, an impoverished Filipina eager for the large financial payout, and Lisa, a wild child with unknown needs, are the three surrogates.
The novel presents many topics for book groups to discuss and casual readers to ponder. Among them – attitudes toward money; styles of parenting; the poor; immigrants (legal or not); power vs weakness, education; exploitation by class, money, education, status, or race; crime and punishment; family; and of course, women.
A question that is not addressed in the novel but should be: What did Reagan do with her bonus and why? Although there is an epilogue, several questions remain of the final outcome for each of the women presented in the novel.

I received an ARC for my freely given opinion.

Sandi W.

the 'haves and the have nots'...
3.5 stars Thank you NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read and review this book. Published May 2019.

This is a debut book. I had started it months ago and was unable to finish it in the time frame I had, so restarted it again from the beginning and quickly got through it. It was an easy book to read and the story carried you along.

Some of the major themes were related to the 'haves and the have nots', 'unfortunate situations', and 'greed'. A large corporation feeding off the need and the inability to succeed of immigrant women. Not only using immigrant women, holding them hostage, but adding pregnancy to their corrupt scheme.

In a baby for sale to the highest bidder, this farm preyed off foreign women. Women agreeing to carry babies to term, regardless of all else. And our protagonist, Jane, learned just how cruel that agreement could be. Betrayed by her own family, preyed upon by the farm, and heartbroken to learn of the mistreatment of her your daughter, Jane decides to change everyone's plans.

I did like the way this story ended, however it was a long sad trip to finally end up there.

I think that Ramos did a very good job on her debut book and I will look for more from this author in the future.

Betty Taylor

Baby Farm
Enter the world of the “haves” vs the “have-nots”. When the wealthy want children but vanity or convenience is more important, they can hire surrogates. The concept behind “The Farm” is to provide high-end luxury services to their Clients. The Farm pays Scouts to recruit young healthy women (Hosts) who are then impregnated with fertilized eggs from the Clients. Many of these Hosts are very poor, coming from impoverished conditions. The Farm provides housing and full medical care for the Hosts. Give The Farm your body (and life) for nine months and walk away with a healthy paycheck.

The facility is run by Mae Yu, a Chinese-American Harvard Business School graduate with questionable morality and unlimited ambition. One of the Hosts is Jane (aka #84), Filipina, who has a six-month daughter of her own and is desperate for a job. She soon becomes friends with her roommate Reagan who is not the typical Host – she comes from a life of privilege, is white, and a Duke graduate. She is looking for purpose in her life and is determined to escape her controlling father. Jane and Reagan are both first time Hosts. Lisa, the “bad girl” back for her third time as a Host, seems to be the only one who sees through the manipulations going on around her. She is the one you love to hate. There are moments in the story that are truly chilling – forced abortions, manipulation, “stand-in” clients. But there is one Host who cannot be bought. The characters are believable and some are engaging.

I didn’t particularly like the premise and the first part of the book was especially slow and, in my opinion, boring. And the ending just did not work at all for me. Too ‘hurry up and tie up the loose ends and give us a happily-ever-after”. I had no problem laying the book aside and not picking it up again for a couple of days.

My thanks to Random House for the finished copy. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher.

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Author Information

Joanne Ramos

Joanne Ramos was born in the Philippines and moved to Wisconsin when she was six. She graduated with a B.A. from Princeton University. After working in investment banking and private-equity investing for several years, she became a staff writer at The Economist. She currently serves on the board of The Moth. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

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