In many respects, this book is one giant ethical quandary, perfect for book club discussions as long as everyone promises to remain calm. Jane’s misguided choices and bad luck leave her struggling as a single mother with few job skills. Golden Oaks, known by the residents as The Farm, seems like the answer to all her problems. If she can get through nine months as a surrogate, pregnant with the child of a wealthy client, she can return to her daughter with enough money for a new start in life. With healthy meals, massages, fitness classes, and daily maid service, the time should breeze by. Even so, the tension on every page kept me worrying about Jane throughout the entire novel. At Golden Oaks she discovers shifting loyalties between the other surrogates and an administration that feels dystopian in its intense scrutiny of not only what she eats and drinks, but also what she says. When the supposedly trustworthy cousin watching her daughter vanishes, Jane panics and the consequences lead to endless questions. Can a woman carrying someone else’s child be accused of kidnapping? Is a womb a space for rent by the rich from the poor? And ultimately who has the control and the final say over the child - the parents or the woman whose body is providing the space and nourishment for the baby to grow? These questions and many others have kept me weighing the issues long after finishing this compelling book. You’ll be ignoring phone calls and other distractions and as you race to find out what happens to Jane, the baby she’s carrying, and the daughter she left behind.— Jenny Chou
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 1 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 bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success
About the Author
Joanne Ramos was born in the Philippines and moved to Wisconsin when she was six. She graduated with a B.A. from Princeton University. After working in investment banking and private-equity investing for several years, she became a staff writer at The Economist. She currently serves on the board of The Moth. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.
“Heady, chilling . . . [Ramos] peoples her book with figures who are appealingly engaging—or, at times, engagingly repellent.”—NPR
“What’s so striking about The Farm isn’t that it imagines a frightening dystopia. This isn’t a hundred years in the future, it’s next week. This is reality, nudged just a touch to its logical extreme. Its very plausibility is a warning shot.”—USA Today
“Richly rendered and engrossing . . . [Ramos] has the acute gaze of the immigrant girl made good. Her book is a necessary one. . . . A great read.”—The Guardian
“The Handmaid’s Tale vibes are strong, but the ‘holy sh*t this book is genius’ vibes are stronger.”—Cosmopolitan
“Unnervingly plausible . . . a suspenseful page-turner . . . Ramos inhabits [her characters] with affection, sensitivity and a keen ear for voice. Together, these women tell a story of an America in which ‘you must be strong or young if you are not rich.’”—The Economist
“A haunting read . . . Ramos has crafted a real page-turner that combines all the hottest issues of the day: inequality, race and women’s battle to reclaim their bodies from commodification by big business, with the eternal questions of how much we can sacrifice before losing ourselves completely. . . . The result is an entertaining novel that is also a serious warning.”—The Times (UK)
“[The Farm] hits home hard—a thrilling read about the myth of meritocracy, the way some people get ahead in life before they’re even born.”—New York
“A sharp takedown of the idea of American meritocracy.”—Refinery29
“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
“A timely investigation of how much control we really have over our own situations, especially when it comes to women’s choice . . . With glimmers of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and the dystopian eeriness of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Farm is equal parts entertaining and creepy.”—PureWow
“Ramos has written a firecracker of a novel, at once caustic and tender, page-turning and thought-provoking. This is a fierce indictment of the vampiric nature of modern capitalism, which never loses sight of the very human stories at its center. Highly recommended.”—Madeleine Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe