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The Farm
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2019
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  Library Journal Review

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.]-Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. Lib., MD © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Ramos's transfixing debut scrutinizes the world of high-end surrogacy with stinging critiques and sets up heartrending dilemmas. Timid Filipina immigrant Jane is persuaded by her much older cousin Evelyn to apply as a surrogate, known as a "host," for the ultrarich after she is fired from her lucrative nannying job. Jane passes the highly selective process, hesitantly leaves her own infant daughter with Evelyn, and, already pregnant, moves into Golden Oaks, a luxury resort-style center in the Hudson Valley where the surrogates live together. Assertive, smooth-talking Mae runs Golden Oaks with strict rules, very curtailed outside contact, and constant surveillance. Jane bonds quickly with her roommate, Reagan, an aspiring photographer and "premium host" (because she's white), who hopes the staggering bonuses for healthy delivery will allow her to escape her father's control. Lisa, another surrogate returning for her third pregnancy, disastrously pulls Jane and Reagan into her schemes to subvert rules. After Jane learns some secrets about Mae and Evelyn, her concern for her absent daughter propels her on a dangerous path that threatens Mae's ambitious plans and Jane's security. Ramos particularly shines at her nuanced, emotional depictions of these women's interior struggles. A surefire hit with book groups, this striking novel will also appeal strongly to readers who like dystopian touches and ethically complicated narratives. Agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
NATIONAL BESTSELLER * Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules. <br> <br> Skimm Reads Pick * People Book of the Week * Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize * "[Joanne] Ramos's debut novel couldn't be more relevant or timely."-- O: The Oprah Magazine <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> Praise for The Farm <br> <br> "So many factors--gender, race, religion, class--may determine where you come down on the surrogacy debate. . . . Ramos plays with many of these notions in her debut novel, The Farm , which imagines what might happen were surrogacy taken to its high-capitalist extreme. . . . The stage is set for lively book chat." -- The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) <br> <br> "A thrilling read." -- New York <br> <br> "Grippingly realistic." -- Entertainment Weekly <br> <br> "Brilliant." -- New York Post <br> <br> "A provocative idea, and Ramos nails it . . . Crisp and believable, this smart debut links the poor and the 1 percent in a unique transaction that turns out to be mutually rewarding." -- People <br> <br> "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
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