The Farm

The Farm

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you've ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is moni...

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Title:The Farm
Author:Joanne Ramos
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Farm Reviews

  • Greg Watson

    is a biting social commentary. Joanne Ramos is outraged in a good way. Her outrage simmers below the surface at times. Other times, it boils over.

    At first glance, the novel appears as an indictment of the one percent and their exploitation of the poor. But for Golden Oaks (the novel's high-end surrogacy business) to thrive, the desperation of poor surrogates is only one component of the story. Golden Oaks also depends on the complicity of the slightly better off poor, the cold ambition

    is a biting social commentary. Joanne Ramos is outraged in a good way. Her outrage simmers below the surface at times. Other times, it boils over.

    At first glance, the novel appears as an indictment of the one percent and their exploitation of the poor. But for Golden Oaks (the novel's high-end surrogacy business) to thrive, the desperation of poor surrogates is only one component of the story. Golden Oaks also depends on the complicity of the slightly better off poor, the cold ambition of the white collar class, and the good intentions of the socially conscious affluent.

    Perhaps the most chilling aspect of the story is that there doesn't seem to be anything standing in the way of a facility like Golden Oaks operating in real life. This is troubling.

    is a brilliant debut novel. Add it to your summer TBR list.

  • Lou

    There has been a lot of hype surrounding Joanne Ramos's debut novel, so I must begin by saying: yes, this is one of those rare occasions that the noise was completely justified. Many have described it as a contemporary of Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale, but given the dire situation the world currently finds itself in The Farm is not a million miles away from reality.

    So forget what you've been told this is a stunning, complex work of fiction with its roots firmly base

    There has been a lot of hype surrounding Joanne Ramos's debut novel, so I must begin by saying: yes, this is one of those rare occasions that the noise was completely justified. Many have described it as a contemporary of Margaret Atwood's dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid's Tale, but given the dire situation the world currently finds itself in The Farm is not a million miles away from reality.

    So forget what you've been told this is a stunning, complex work of fiction with its roots firmly based in real-world events. Make no mistake, it is a challenging read and brings forth many philosophical, moral and ethical questions which I always appreciate in my fiction. It is so well constructed that you simply cannot fail to be drawn in from very early on. I fully expect this to rapidly become a bestseller and to leave its mark on readers as it did with me.

    The effort that has gone into making this a multifaceted, powerful and searingly emotive tale holding many important messages for its readers show that this has been a labour of love for Ms Ramos. We have been warned for several years now about the beginning of the end for people employed in low-skilled jobs as a direct result of the emergence of technology which can carry out those jobs with increased efficiency whilst negating the need to pay a wage or salary. This means those who are made redundant must find an alternative method of making a living, but with little to no expertise, this leaves few jobs open to them.

    And that's where Golden Oaks, a facility that houses surrogates for the duration of their pregnancy, comes in. Catering to the uber-wealthy the hosts' lives are controlled in every possible way from conception right through to birth.

    Ramos uses this divisive set-up to comment on a variety of increasingly important topics, including the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, technological advancement as a double edge sword, surrogacy, reproductive rights, exploitation, class, race and immigration. She manages with considerable aplomb to show just how lost we've become as a species, but most of all, it signifies just how quickly the famed American dream can turn into a hellish nightmare.

    Each of the female inmates is intricately developed as well as three-dimensional, and each holds a different perspective which helps make the story fully rounded. One of the parts that really stood out for me was the fact that these affluent Americans seeking a surrogate will pay significantly more for a white host who is well educated than any other race. Sadly, this seems to be reflective of our reality to some extent where some individuals in society perpetuate the ugly idea of white supremacy, whether intentional or incidental is beside the point.

    The Farm is an ominous, claustrophobic, character-driven reality check and an astounding and thoroughly accomplished debut. Thought-provoking, beautifully written and incredibly original, Ramos is a master storyteller who has disguised this intelligent and eminently readable piece, which could be perceived as a warning, as fictional, but given that most of what happens in the book is already happening in reality - just how fictitious is it? Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.

  • Emily May

    Some time ago, I read a starred review for

    , requested an arc, got approved, and then promptly forgot everything about the book that had made me want to read it in the first place. And let me tell you: I think this is the best possible thing that could have happened.

    Words like "dystop

    Some time ago, I read a starred review for

    , requested an arc, got approved, and then promptly forgot everything about the book that had made me want to read it in the first place. And let me tell you: I think this is the best possible thing that could have happened.

    Words like "dystopia" are being thrown around in reviews of the

    , as are comparisons to

    , but this is misleading. This book should not be regarded as a dystopia;

    . It is almost entirely a contemporary. Most, if not all, of what happens in this book is already happening. If I had gone into this believing I was getting a dystopian novel, I would have been disappointed.

    Instead,

    is better viewed as a character-driven exploration of race, immigrants, class, and reproductive rights in modern America. As technology develops, we see the disappearance of blue collar jobs, long-filled by immigrants and the poorest Americans. Out of this will grow - and are growing - service-based jobs. One such job that is increasingly becoming an option for former blue collar workers is surrogacy. This is not a dystopian matter. Companies like

    already exist, offering you the chance to earn up to $63,000, plus benefits.

    This book is about a company called Golden Oaks, similar to Growing Generations above, except that it offers a live-in center for the surrogates to be free from outside threats and distractions, eat only the most nutritious food, and live stress-free.

    Ramos uses this setting to examine several very different characters. There's Jane, a Filipina who joins Golden Oaks to earn money for her own 6-month-old baby, and her older cousin, Evelyn, who has a long history of caring for rich people's newborns. There's white, pretty and educated Reagan, a "premium host" who is driven by her need to do good and be of use. There's Lisa, also white, who is on her third pregnancy at Golden Oaks and frequently criticizes the center for its exploitation, calling it "The Farm".

    Through these women, the author weaves a tale that I personally found fascinating. She looks at the way people can be exploited and manipulated based on their character profiles. She looks at racial and class bias and the ludicrous way rich Americans will pay so much more for a white, educated "host" when the kid is 100% theirs anyway. It's ridiculous, and yet I absolutely believed in it.

    There are, of course, lots of morality questions. So much deceit goes on under the guise of protecting the surrogates from stress, and the hosts' contracts create many issues. Mae-Yu, the Chinese-American running Golden Oaks, finds loophole after loophole to lie to both clients and surrogates. Questions arise as to whether the center should be allowed to force an abortion, and whose life takes precedence - surrogate or baby's - when the host has signed a contract promising to use their best efforts to ensure the wellbeing of the unborn child.

    Ramos really understands all her characters. Her writing never falters as she takes us inside such very different minds and makes each one completely believable. She must have put a lot of thought into all of their situations and motivations. And there are a number of very moving moments, too. I really enjoyed it.

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  • Navidad Thélamour

    has a phenomenal premise with well-executed imagery. The grounds of the "farm" and described so that you feel you're there yourself and the characters are all lifelike and realistic. BUT, I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped I would when I eagerly picked it up. The situations Jane finds herself in the farm lacked the emotion and drama that I'd hoped for. While she was so upset at how confining the farm was, I honestly felt like a lot of the situations weren't that big of a deal

    has a phenomenal premise with well-executed imagery. The grounds of the "farm" and described so that you feel you're there yourself and the characters are all lifelike and realistic. BUT, I didn't like this book as much as I'd hoped I would when I eagerly picked it up. The situations Jane finds herself in the farm lacked the emotion and drama that I'd hoped for. While she was so upset at how confining the farm was, I honestly felt like a lot of the situations weren't that big of a deal and were completely fair under the terms she'd offered to work for the farm. And while I know that Ramos wanted to be true to the soft-spoken, Filipino woman she wanted to portray, I found Jane too meek and boring to really root for her.

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  • Brandice

    is a story about women serving as surrogates (hosts) for wealthy clients at Golden Oaks, a private estate in New York. The host selection process is intense and competitive, but offers a large financial reward for those selected who do not breach the strict terms of their contract.

    The story predominately focuses on Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, who makes the difficult decision to serve as a host in order to help provide a better life for her young daughter Amalia. Jane’s old

    is a story about women serving as surrogates (hosts) for wealthy clients at Golden Oaks, a private estate in New York. The host selection process is intense and competitive, but offers a large financial reward for those selected who do not breach the strict terms of their contract.

    The story predominately focuses on Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, who makes the difficult decision to serve as a host in order to help provide a better life for her young daughter Amalia. Jane’s older cousin Ate, other hosts at the farm, and Mae, Golden Oaks’ Director of Operations, are secondary characters in the story. The book is focused on class and privilege, highlighted by the various decisions different characters make (or have the options to make) depending on their own personal motivations.

    The premise of

    was interesting, yet the execution was average. The ending was a bit unrealistic. I kept hoping the story would pick up and get better but it just remained an ok read for me.

  • Elyse Walters

    “The Farm”... called “Golden Oaks”, is a surrogacy Farm. Women are impregnated with sperm to host a child. Most of the ‘host women’ are black Caribbean immigrant women. They need jobs - the money is good. The clients are wealthy and white.

    It’s an intriguing story - but the writing often felt motionless and toneless. I kept wanting to add some Technicolor.

    Jane, ( who left her own baby behind), Lisa, ( feisty rebel of the bunch), and Reagan are all hosts on the farm. Each went through intensive

    “The Farm”... called “Golden Oaks”, is a surrogacy Farm. Women are impregnated with sperm to host a child. Most of the ‘host women’ are black Caribbean immigrant women. They need jobs - the money is good. The clients are wealthy and white.

    It’s an intriguing story - but the writing often felt motionless and toneless. I kept wanting to add some Technicolor.

    Jane, ( who left her own baby behind), Lisa, ( feisty rebel of the bunch), and Reagan are all hosts on the farm. Each went through intensive vetting before they were selected. Other main characters are Ate, ( too old to be a host mother- but had been a master Nanny Queen in her prime), and Mae. (Ms. Wealthy-bossy of ‘Golden Oaks)...

    For nine months the host women are medically monitored. At the end of nine months - the infant gets handed over to the client whose embryo they carry.

    The host women are offered many spa benefits - but also potential penalties.

    Topic Themes explored are race, class, inequality, wealth, poverty, immigration, motherhood, trust, friendships, personal freedom, rules, sacrifice, self expression, exploitation, manipulation, childcare, big business, greed, fear and isolation, radical politics, and morality, with an all women dominated cast of characters.

    The main female leads and the supporting females all have something to say. At times - there was not much difference between any of them, other than we knew who the HAVES and HAVE NOTS were.

    I wanted to like this more than I did. The ending is weak and the epilogue just felt long and senseless.

    At the same time - I honesty felt this book had potential.

    ‘The Farm’, itself.....had me thinking ( not particularly with all the stereotyping and the far-fetched scenarios)....but I do think it’s possible there are surrogacy home - retreats or otherwise. With integrity, these places could be a supportive environment for those serious about surrogacy.

    Thank you Random House Publishing, Netgalley, and Joanne Ramos

  • Nadia

    The Farm is a place where young women are recruited to become surrogate mothers for wealthy clients. The recruits are watched at all times, even their emails are monitored, they have a prescribed diet and an exercise plan they have to adhere to. Motivated by the hefty cash bonus paid upon baby delivery, Jane, a single mother from the Philippines, signs up. Jane doesn't mind being at the Farm at first but soon starts missing her little daughte

    The Farm is a place where young women are recruited to become surrogate mothers for wealthy clients. The recruits are watched at all times, even their emails are monitored, they have a prescribed diet and an exercise plan they have to adhere to. Motivated by the hefty cash bonus paid upon baby delivery, Jane, a single mother from the Philippines, signs up. Jane doesn't mind being at the Farm at first but soon starts missing her little daughter who is less than a year old and was left behind to be looked after by Jane's cousin.

    What the book does well is highlighting the economic disparity between rich and poor, the struggles of immigrants and ethnic minorities and their financial motivation to join the Farm. I also appreciated the insight into the lives of Filipino women living in the US. However, one of the problems I had with this book was that there were too many side stories and characters thrown in that were totally unnecessary as they did not add anything to the overall story. The story is told from a number of POV, following stories of a couple of girls at the Farm, the Farm director and Jane's cousin. I did care about Jane and her story and I wished there was more focus on her as the main character.

    The ending of the story surprised me, but not in a good way. It felt as if the author wanted a happy ending for every character at all costs, when clearly, things happened between certain characters that they would struggle to put behind them in real life.

    Overall, I think the premise of the book is unique and thought-provoking but in my opinion, the author did not push the envelop far enough.

  • Cheri

    2.5 ‘Meh’ Stars

    A bit predictable, one-dimensional, the only thing that wasn’t flat for me is the image on the cover. The ending is oddly disconnected to the rest of the book, as though there’s an entire thought process or some key information missing. That being said, I do think that this will likely be commercially successful because it seems to promise so much more.

    If you’re thinking this is some sci-fi or dystopian story, it’s not. If you’re thinking of reading this with some idea that this

    2.5 ‘Meh’ Stars

    A bit predictable, one-dimensional, the only thing that wasn’t flat for me is the image on the cover. The ending is oddly disconnected to the rest of the book, as though there’s an entire thought process or some key information missing. That being said, I do think that this will likely be commercially successful because it seems to promise so much more.

    If you’re thinking this is some sci-fi or dystopian story, it’s not. If you’re thinking of reading this with some idea that this is about women or couples or gay couples so desperate to have a baby or babies that they hire a surrogate to do the physical labor for them, that’s closer to the truth, but even there I felt the story fell flat, and felt untrue. If you’re thinking it’s about poor women, perhaps especially immigrants, who choose to carry another’s child through gestation for financial rewards, it is – but it’s more about those who prey on those weak enough, desperate enough, or whose upper-class privileged background has them wanting to give back in some way.

    The Farm, called Golden Oaks, transports these women into a comfortable dorm-like setting, where they are then monitored, what they eat, where they go, who they talk to, etc. for the duration of their pregnancy. For some, this is a step up, in terms of setting, but they all seem to have issues with the level of monitoring for one reason or another.

    The message of this novel seems to be summed up in one sentence:

    I kept reading thinking this would have more redeeming value at some point, and when I finished reading it I realized I was wrong. The writing is good enough, without being poignant or beautifully written. The epilogue seemed pointless and I was confused why it was even included since it seemed to detract some from the main story and added nothing to it for me.

    Surrogacy is an ancient practice that has evolved since Sarai directed Abraham to go to her maid that she might bear his child through her, but this story seemed to wander in the desert for too long, leaving me thirsting for more.

    Pub Date: 07 May 2019

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group – Random House

  • Erin

    As an avid reader, I can certainly recognize why this book is receiving the hype that it has been getting. The focus on women's bodies, their role as mothers and the business side of pregnancy have been and continue to be very relevant issues. In fact, it makes

    a really great candidate for your next bookclub night. I just don't find myself on that hype train.

    A story narrated by several different female characters and I wasn't able to connect with them. Actually, that isn't REALLY tr

    As an avid reader, I can certainly recognize why this book is receiving the hype that it has been getting. The focus on women's bodies, their role as mothers and the business side of pregnancy have been and continue to be very relevant issues. In fact, it makes

    a really great candidate for your next bookclub night. I just don't find myself on that hype train.

    A story narrated by several different female characters and I wasn't able to connect with them. Actually, that isn't REALLY true, I actually did find Mae's storyline fascinating and she was such a strongly written character. I felt that I could question her ethics and role in this whole baby making business a heck of a lot more than other characters. It was Jane and Regan- the two characters I believe I was supposed to have a lot of empathy for - I just didn't!

    Given the fact that I found myself continuing to shift this book down on my reading priority list, but did enjoy some elements in the story, it was a 3 rating for me.

    Publication Date 07/05/19

    Goodreads Review 11/05/19

  • Felicia

    The Farm is a place where women (especially immigrants) go to serve as surrogates for wealthy families while living in spa-like surroundings. These women are handsomely paid for their services making it a win-win for both parties.

    Oh man this could have been such a great book.

    If you dive into this book thinking you're getting a nightmarish Handmaid's Tale-ish take on a baby harvesting farm then you're going to be disappointed.

    This is a story about class and privilege and the disparity between th

    The Farm is a place where women (especially immigrants) go to serve as surrogates for wealthy families while living in spa-like surroundings. These women are handsomely paid for their services making it a win-win for both parties.

    Oh man this could have been such a great book.

    If you dive into this book thinking you're getting a nightmarish Handmaid's Tale-ish take on a baby harvesting farm then you're going to be disappointed.

    This is a story about class and privilege and the disparity between the high and low ends of the spectrum. The wealthy achieving their goals on the back of those less fortunate has always been the way in America and this story gives a unique take on that truth.

    "....in America you only need to know how to make money. Money buys everything else."

    After reading this book I feel like the author promised more than she delivered.

    The entire book hints at some underlying evil going on at the farm yet nothing ever happens on that front. The Farm itself is pretty straightforward leaving the story to rest solely on the characters, namely the surrogates.

    Aside from Jane, the main character, we don't learn a whole lot about the other surrogates, the wealthy parents-to-be or the people running the farm.

    Although Joanne Ramos has written a book featuring a timely subject matter, her telling of the story falls flat on all fronts.

    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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