I headed into The Farm by Joanne Ramos not knowing anything about it except what the book jacket said, and was surprised by how good it was!
I didn’t have any expectations and read it with an open mind and perhaps that’s why I enjoyed this book immensely.
Moreover, I could relate to some of the characters in the book because I have a background in childcare similar to theirs. Whatever the case may be, Ramos’ debut novel worked for me.
The concept of surrogacy is not a new idea but Ramos takes it up a notch by making the story line set in present day, and applying capitalism to the concept. Now what we have is an interesting story of the uber rich paying for someone, a “Host”, to carry their baby to term. The Host gets paid a big bonus if the baby is delivered at the end of the pregnancy.
To make the story even more interesting is the fact that the Host has to stay at the spa-like resort, Golden Oaks, for nine months and is monitored and cut off from the rest of the world until the baby is delivered. The Hosts call Golden Oaks the titular The Farm. Just like a baby farm.
The Farm was an easy to read book and was a page turner for me. The light tone of the book helped me get into the characters right away.
The book has quite a lot of dialogue so the pages went fast and before I knew it, I was at page 321, and it was done.
I enjoyed how the chapters switched between the four main characters, Jane, Ate, Mae and Reagan. With each chapter we find out a bit more of each character and why they are what they are.
Ramos does a great job in portraying the characters. She also does a good job in making you relate or emphasize with the characters. Jane was the main character and we got to understand her point of view. I also liked how the other characters viewed Jane.
Ramos wrote the main characters with pinpoint accuracy. I thought that Jane and Ate were realistic and believable in their ways.
Jane is an immigrant from the Philippines and is a single mother with a six month old baby. She is desperate to make her a better future for herself and her baby Amalia.
I found that I liked Jane but she was naive. She was also uneducated so she saw things with wide eyes. She marveled at the idea of putting money in a bank and getting interest! She didn’t know about growth through compounding!
There were times when I couldn’t understand her actions but then remembered her simple nature. For example, Jane was caught for breast-feeding a baby she was taking care of and was fired because of it. I was thinking why did she do that? Didn’t she know that you can’t do that? It’s easy to forget that social values and norms here between the rich and poor or the employer and employee are clearly delineated in the first world.
Ate (a.k.a Evelyn Arroyo)
Ate is Jane’s cousin. She’s 67 years old and is a baby nurse. She became known as the “Baby Whisperer” because she sleep train babies by 12 weeks. Ate has been in the United States just over twenty years. She came over to America because a friend had told her about a baby nursing job and she needed the money.
I liked Ate for her motherly way with Jane. She tries to help Jane because she knows that Jane is a new mother and doesn’t have the experience that she has.
Ate is also perceptive and smart and tries to help Jane with good advice.
“Big money cannot be ignored. Life holds surprises,” Ate says, thinking of Roy, her youngest.“
Ate is very focused on making money as much as she can because she is getting older and doesn’t have any money saved. She sends her money back to the Philippines.
I enjoyed the ending although I felt that it just stopped abruptly.
I was glad for the epilogue which was set two and a half years later. It reveals Jane’s situation after the birth of the baby.
I liked that I got to find out what happened to Jane, who is in her life and what her dreams were going forward.
My Final Thoughts
I loved The Farm by Joanne Ramos!
The book is a page-turner and well worth the read. I highly recommend this book!