The Farm

Random. May 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781984853752. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781984853769. F
DEBUT From the blurb, you might think that Ramos's debut novel is about a near-future dystopia with poor women serving as portable wombs for wealthy women. But no, our hosts, as they are known at Golden Oaks, aka the Farm, live in the present. Mae is the managing director of Golden Oaks and is breaking the glass ceiling at Holloway as the first and only woman at the director's table. She is also half Chinese and half white. Golden Oaks hosts are largely poor women of color like Jane, who is Filipina, but there are highly prized hosts as well. It costs significantly more to purchase a premium white host with a college degree like Reagan, Jane's sometime roommate at the Oaks. Race, ethnicity, money, and power fuel a narrative about family and parenthood triggered by Jane's cousin Ate, whose actions lead to a series of events that bring the four women together.
VERDICT Traveling from the glitz of Manhattan to multiethnic, immigrant Queens and the isolation of the rural Hudson Valley, this is an exciting read about the politics of motherhood and female autonomy. Highly recommended for readers of both popular and literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/18.]

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