Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review - The Farm

Title:   The Farm
Author:  Joanne Ramos
Genre:   Literary Fiction
Publisher:   Random House
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  336
Date of Publication:  May 7, 2019
My Rating:  5  Stars

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 monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your ├╝berwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter's well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she'll receive on delivery--or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.


Would you be willing to give up your life for a few seasons? A relationship, family, education? What if you could spend up to nine months at a gorgeous locale with all of your needs cared for by a devoted team? Well, some women make this very decision to become Hosts for those who need surrogates. They become temporary guests at The Farm, called Golden Oaks.

Mostly immigrant women are involved here and have very little choice when it comes to this difficult decision. Among these women we meet Jane. She was a struggling single mother with an excellent job as a baby nurse. Due to extreme circumstances, Jane is forced to find other employment because of an unfortunate event at her most recent job, With another baby nurse, her cousin Ate, to help care for her young daughter, Jane becomes pregnant as part of her new employment. An incentivized Host. Carrying a baby for wealthy Clients.

Strict rules enforce secrecy. The Hosts only job is to follow a course set in front of them that will allow them to carry to term in the safest, healthiest way possible. Whether or not the money for acting as a Host is worth it compares to the emotional toll placed upon these young women. Will the emotional attachment these women cope with be enough of a trade off to have many women, from several other walks of life, be something that becomes a secure part of the future?

The story is told from multiple points of view, including that of Mae, another powerful character as it was she who designed the surrogacy program. As mentioned, most of the women who become Hosts are immigrants, so race and financial inequality are explored. Truly makes one think. As a mother, I don’t think I could give up my child no matter the financial gain.

I appreciated The Farm very much. I liked it and I disliked it, but I am most certainly glad to have read it. That is why this difficult book rates five stars. It is by far, completely unlike most of what I read. Kind of made me think a bit of The Handmade’s Tale. This book provides a provocative look into a future when you can simply place an ad for things such as having babies simply for financial gain.

The Farm explores racial inequality in a different world. This book further touches on the difficult things forced upon these women. Their freedom is definitely stifled. Again, is it all worth it? A bit futuristic. A bit science fiction. A bit horror (it would be spoilery to say why). Joanne Ramos has truly hit it out of the park. This debut novel is something that will remain with me for a long time.

Many thanks to NetGalley (although I noticed this book via Shelf Awareness Pro) and to Random House for this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion.


JOANNE RAMOS was born in the Philippines and moved to Wisconsin when she was six. She graduated with a BA from Princeton University. After working in investment banking and private-equity investing for several years, she became a staff writer at The Economist. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.


  1. Seems like a very interesting read.

  2. Sounds like some fascinating themes, thanks for sharing it!

  3. Oh wow, I'd really love to check this out. Jane seems like a very typical Filipina working overseas and as a Filipina myself, I love reading about my people. Never know about this book until now, thanks for putting it on my radar.

  4. This one seems to be unsettling me. You are brave!

  5. The book sounds very different and I'm intrigued. Great review.

  6. I can’t bring myself to read this one, although I will say the cover is super creative.

  7. Sounds intriguing. I love dystopian novels.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes