The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Author: Joanne Ramos
Published: May 7, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: April 23- May 5, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 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 überwealthy 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.
The thriller lover in me wanted a novel where Golden Oaks, aka ‘The Farm’ was ‘the big bad evil’ with ulterior motive and missing surrogates, etc. The Farm is Joanne Ramos’ debut novel and instead of thriller we get a novel about class and privilege and extreme differences. The differences in race, immigration status, lack of freedom, morality and greed, and many more topics are also explored.
‘The Farm’ seems like a resort for surrogates, and in some ways it is. The surrogates are given most everything they could need, but not want. They are subject to rules and regulations but they are also paid significantly as the pregnancy progresses. There are both positive and negative consequences to ‘The Farm’. In reality, the women are numbered like cattle carrying commodities, and it is all about the health of the fetus and the end result of a healthy baby delivered for ‘the client’. Most of the ‘hosts’ are immigrants who need a job and see a high payout with working at ‘The Farm’ and most of the clients are white. The ‘clients’ of Golden Oaks are not necessarily people who cannot have children: They are the rich who may not want to ruin their ‘perfect bodies’ with pregnancy or don’t want to deal with the time involved with doctor’s appointments and possible complications.
We get four points of view in The Farm:
Jane- an immigrant and our main protagonist
Reagan- another Host/Surrogate
Mae- Golden Oaks’ Director of Operations
Ate- Jane’s cousin
Each character makes decisions based on what works best for them and their given situation. I liked Jane and was on her side the whole novel. When she made bad decisions I just wanted to knock some sense into her! I felt for her when she missed her baby girl that she left with her cousin to ‘work’ at ‘The Farm’ for 9 months. Nine months can be a short amount of time to earn a huge payout, but at what cost? Jane begins to realize this as time passes and she misses her daughter’s milestones.
This is yet another novel that will leave you thinking. How far away is our society from having real life ‘farms’ for the wealthy that are made up of ‘hosts’ who are the poor and want or need that paycheck?
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for my copy.