The American Dream, capitalism, female autonomy, class, race, wealth, control: these are all concepts contemplated in Joanne Ramos’ debut novel The Farm. When this novel was released in 2019, it was buzz worthy. Anyone who was anyone was reading this novel, for good reason. The Farm follows the story of Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines on her quest to better herself and her family, including her infant daughter and sick aunt. When her aunt suggests she consider being a “Host” at Golden Oaks – a facility where Jane can be paid to be a wealthy person’s surrogate – it seems an easy payday.
“The Farm terrifies with a simple question: How much of ourselves are we willing to sell? With characters so real they leap off the page, Ramos yanks the reader into a world of Haves and Have-Nots, and her question lingers long after we turn the final page.”– Christina Dalcher, author of Vox
The Farm made an earlier debut on HauntedMTL as one of CourtCourt’s summer reading recommendations of last year. I’m late to the game, but she’s totally right.
This novel heavily calls into question what it means to be a mother and what we are willing to put ourselves through to be able to fulfill the American Dream. In addition, it questions the role that capitalism plays in the corruption of perhaps previously well-intentioned people.
The prose is unsettling and leaves the reader gasping for breath as they press on. I read this novel in only two sittings. The writing, character studies, and need for answers kept me racing through.
I have seen quite a few critiques of this novel stating that it could have benefitted from a more concrete storyline. I disagree. The way the characters traversed the obstacles presented to them was organic and felt true to human nature. A forced plot and wrapped up ending would have negated the intense philosophical contemplation I felt led this novel to its triumphs.
Easily a four Cthulhu read that sticks with you. It possibly grows into a 4.5 / 5 Cthulhu read as it crawls inside your skin and lives there.(4 / 5)