The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Expected publication: May 7th 2019 by Random House
I managed to get my hands on a proof copy of this one, because I just couldn’t wait! A filipina had written a book that had filipino characters and actually spoke about the filipino immigrant. This was a rare find for me. The book centers around Jane, a half filipina half american, new (and newly single) mom. She gets a tip from her cousin “Ate” that the farm pays well for surrogacy and it’s an easy way to earn a lot of money and secure herself and her child. Along with Jane’s story we also get to follow and see the perspectives of other women in this story; Ate, Mea (the woman in charge at the farm) and a few other residents of the farm.
I’ve seen this compared to The handmaids tale, but this is not that. This is more readable and much much lighter, but it still holds heavy topics. It almost seems to me like a heavy book disguised as a light beach read. There are so many things to read into here: surrogacy, immigration, culture, sacrifice, deceit and the hunt for a better life. Surrogacy in itself is a controversial topic. Who should be able to use a surrogate? Should it be limited to those who cannot physically have their own babies, or is vanity a good enough reason? Will this put a price on babies heads when richer clients that are willing to pay more can have “better surrogates”?
Also there’s the discussion about immigrants, very many leave their children behind to earn wages and send money home. It lightly touches on many subjects without digging to deep, but to me this book is mostly about searching for a better life no matter what conditions you come from and it shows us MANY different versions of the same story: Ate is an older immigrant and sends money home to her children, Jane is a single mother and has a newborn child to take care of, Mae has her own business and wants her business to thrive, Reagan struggles with her relationships and is in search of something she cannot quite put her finger on. All these individual stories show us different faces of the same struggle, and how culture and circumstance can play a large part in our choices and reactions.
It was fun for me, personally, to see a filipina as the protagonist. I enjoyed every little piece of that! But I didn’t identify with Jane at all. Being half filipina like Jane, and my mother also being from Olongapo/Subic I was left a little wanting. But I recognized so many of the characteristics of the different cultures in this book and seeing them all together like that was very satisfying. It’s a fun read and great for sparking conversations!