When the Bough Breaks

A monumental survey of our twisted family trees

Although he is not himself a little person, Andrew Solomon attended a Little People of America convention in Danvers, Mass., in 2003. On his first day there, he met a teenage girl who was staring around at her fellow attendees, evidently distressed. It was her first time there too. "This is what I look like," she said. She was either laughing or crying or both. "These people look like me!"

This story comes early on in Solomon's monumental, almost absurdly ambitious Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. It illustrates a concept that Solomon calls horizontal identity....

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