The Farm – Joanne Ramos
Welcome to the future – welcome to The Farm.
Jane is a single mom and a struggling immigrant from the Philippines. She is presented with the opportunity to be a host and live at a luxury retreat of sorts – Golden Oaks.
Massages, gourmet food, expert medical care, and generous pay with one caveat – you are pregnant as a surrogate for a wealthy family or individual and cannot leave the grounds. Oh, and you are continuously monitored. It’s a business and you are simply a host with a number instead of a name.
Jane accepts the opportunity and leaves her daughter, Amalia, in the care of Ate, her cousin they are living with. While motivated to provide a better life for her daughter, Jane still struggles with losing contact with her daughter and the outside world.
As a mother myself, my heart broke for Jane, especially when Golden Oaks used contact with her daughter as a means of control. The other hosts were in similar situations – missing family and significant others.
Naturally the hosts bond and one by one you learn their own backgrounds and experiences at The Farm; some in more detail than others.
This was where the book went sideways for me. I was initially captivated by the difficult choices Jane had to make and the big business of surrogacy. But as each host and their individual lives were introduced, the plot became crowded with characters and none of them felt well developed.
When I finished the book I felt like something was missing. There was a lot of potential to examine the ethics of a surrogacy farm, the control of their bodies that the women gave up, race, imbalances of power, and motherhood and the sacrifices mothers make. The author briefly hit on all of these issues but almost seemed hesitant to fully weave them into the plot.
Overall the book was written well and the concept was unique and creative. It was entertaining in parts – it just lacked depth.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.