Book Review

Review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos


Golden Oaks, or “The Farm” as it is known by some of its residents, is a luxury resort, where women are paid to be surrogates for the wealthy. This is set in a world where career-driven and successful women don’t have time to take maternity leave, or risk their career, and where the wealthy Clients can buy their baby Hosts – perhaps not too far from where we are now.

A place that takes women out of circulation for a full nine months – for a life-changing payment – is, however, more of a necessity for the desperate, many of whom are immigrants, or women who feel out of place.

The Farm follows the story of two Hosts in particular – one a Filippino immigrant, the other a middle class white American. They both come from very different backgrounds, but the Farm forces them into shared experiences. Jane, the Filippino, has left a young daughter behind in order to pursue this life-changing money, and the lead-up to why she chooses to do this is particularly well-written and uncomfortable.

These experiences are interspersed with the voice of Ate Evelyn – left behind to care for Jane’s daughter – and Mae, who is in charge of the facility. Mae (Ms Yu) is a particularly delicious character – she has simultaneously overcome her own barriers, and had a privileged upbringing. She has had to work hard for where she is, but is desperate for that success to continue.

There seem to have been some high expectations that this novel would be closer to the dystopia of a 1984 or Handmaid’s Tale setting. In actual fact, it is much closer to the world we live in today. The ending/Epilogue was certainly dissatisfying, but perhaps that is more suitable to a modern-day dystopia, than something truly hopeful. My own dissatisfaction is with how one of the characters appears to have changed her outlook/motivation significantly by the end, although their empathy has been hinted at earlier on.Golden Oaks, or “The Farm” as it is known by some of its residents, is a luxury resort, where women are paid to be surrogates for the wealthy. This is set in a world where career-driven and successful women don’t have time to take maternity leave, or risk their career, and where the wealthy Clients can buy their baby Hosts – perhaps not too far from where we are now.

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