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The Farm

A Novel
Written by: Joanne Ramos
Narrated by: Fran de Leon
Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
4 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • 

Life is a lucrative business, as long as you play by the rules. 

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

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. 

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. 

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.

Praise for The Farm

“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)

“A thrilling read.” (New York

“Grippingly realistic.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Brilliant.” (New York Post)

“A provocative idea, and Ramos nails it.... Crisp and believable, this smart debut links the poor and the one percent in a unique transaction that turns out to be mutually rewarding.” (People)

“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 best-selling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success)

©2019 Joanne Ramos (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

The Farm is a smart, thoughtful novel about women, choices, and the immigrant experience that asks the question: How far would you go for the American dream?” (PopSugar, “Buzzy Books to Read This Spring”)

“Perhaps the most powerful element of this debut novel by Ramos, who was born in Manila and moved to Wisconsin when she was six, is its portrait of the world of Filipinas in New York. The three-page soliloquy of instructions for nannying delivered to Jane by her more experienced cousin is a work of art in itself.... Excellent.” [Kirkus Reviews (starred review)]

“Transfixing... 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.” (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

i heard about this book on CBC's Summer Reads so I figured it was worth taking a chance on. The idea behind the story has great potential to be very captivating. Unfortunately, the suspense that was built up in the novel ended in a rather flat and unsatisfying outcome.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking

Can this ever happen in real life. To think that women are using their body to have babies for others for a large lump sum of money. To be that poor that you have to go outside your comfort zone. The women appreciated being cared for and that their families were fed.
The story was not all that interesting to me though. It dragged on. I wouldn't listen to it again.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Sprinkle of Dystopia and a Shoveling of Drama

I liked The Farm by Joanne Ramos. I was sucked in, and found it rather exciting. The premise was promising, and the writing was rather good. What was most intriguing and refreshing was that Ramos deals with the concepts of class hierarchy and race playing such a big part of the dystopian concept of farming out children for the wealthy. Where it got to be a little too much for me was when the speculative fiction took a back seat to drama, as I found it to be dialed up to the "soap opera" level.

Fran de Leon does a great job in her performance as people from several different racial backgrounds. It's easy to go overboard with accents but de Leon played them with dignity.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Food for thought

Is this life that will imitate art? The Farm is a thought provoking novel that brings about different emotions as well. The idea of commodifying surrogacy and who gets to profit and make the decisions is not a far fetched thought. The women who become surrogates can be seem as empowered because they are taking control of their bodies but at the same time they are being controlled.

I did enjoy the different character perspectives. I would have liked to have a bit more clarity of the timeline of events; it was difficult to know the time because the book goes from character to character.

I look forward to see what her second book will tackle.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Blissfully Booked
  • 2019-05-14

Good Premise, but-

The book itself is a statement piece. There is little growth for the main character. She doesn’t triumph over her struggles. If you are looking for that kind of character development you won’t get it here. Jane is the same person in the end as she was when her story begins. Caution is her only gain.

The author describes this work as a “window” into the life of an immigrant. She explores the lengths they will go to get a piece of that “American Dream”. The sacrifice of their autonomy to put money in the bank. Something most Americans will never do because we enjoy our freedom of choice and our right to not save a dime.

Golden Oaks (The Farm) is a luxurious spa for surrogates (hosts) who sign over their autonomy with the enticement of big bucks. These women cut themselves off from their everyday lives and dedicate their bodies and mental and emotional energies to growing fetuses for wealthy patrons that either cannot reproduce or simply do not have the time in their busy schedules for such an undertaking.

Most of the Hosts are poor immigrants. This story focuses mostly on the Filipino experience where we meet Jane, who when fired from her job as a baby caregiver, is manipulated into signing on at “Golden Oaks.”

The most powerful element of this story is the presence of low-key racism in the exploitation of women. Most of The Farms clients prefer the rare white host, which becomes an untapped market in consideration for expansion by the proprietors.
It’s all about the business, After All.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christalpistol
  • 2019-05-08

Excellent novel!

I couldn’t wait for this book to come out and I listened practically non stop. Very interesting subject matter. It will pull at your heart strings and make your blood boil. I know I was yelling in the kitchen while listening and my husband looked in like I was crazy! The characters feel so real! I have no complaints about this book. It moved swiftly and the narration was great.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-06-08

Disappointing Storyline

The idea and concept of the book is very interesting... but the storyline was terrible and didn’t go anywhere.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bernard Phillipp
  • 2019-06-03

Slow

The story line actually had meat but was smothered in boring tedious word gravy. The women’s revelations and problems were not written dynamically enough and the singsong monotone reading did not help. I am dissatisfied the author did not do justice to the women in the book. This poor review may also be this is not my genre.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • #Josette-stories.site
  • 2019-05-30

Extremely engrossing and hard to put down.

This book held my interest right from the start and all the way through the end. Although it is an examination of class and socioeconomics, it is handled with sensitivity so that (as in life perhaps) there are no 100% good guys and no 100% bad guys. This is a difficult feat to perform these days when it appears that the dictates of the literary world require casting characters who desire and acquire status and material gains in life as villains

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • LG H
  • 2019-05-19

Excellent

I loved this book. Subject is interesting and gives you a lot to consider about the ethics of the situation. If you are paying for a surrogate, do you have her best interest in mind. Or do you just consider the baby's health or possibly the client. Excellent narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • The Fosters
  • 2019-09-17

Well done, though not for everyone

Very well-written but I prefer books with more action. This is slow, with excellent (if not too much) detail, about many lives. I’m halfway through and wouldn’t finish if it wasn’t for book club. Maybe something in the second half will make it more exciting and worthwhile. Zzzzz

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kokeshi
  • 2019-09-14

Just alright.

I kept waiting for something to happen, some twist that would make this story interesting. I read and listened and just thought it was ok. I went in thinking it was more of a Handmaid’s Tale kind of story. Some parts had the potential to be great, then it fizzled out.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tricia B
  • 2019-09-10

Too many details

At times, there were too many details discussed. I see where the author was going but it became mundane to listen to every single detail and thought of the character.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Deena Dyson
  • 2019-07-31

Great narration of a very unique novel!

I loved it and haven’t read anything like it before, it hooked me and made me think. Great narration too!