Everyday, on my walk to work, I pass by a park full of Filipino caretakers watching over and playing with little white children. The neighbourhood I walk through is pretty gentrified, and it’s clear these women are nannies and not the mothers of these little ones. This time of day is as much the socialization time for each caretaker as it is for the children, and I can hear them speaking in their native tongue and sitting to the side having close talks with their good friends. The Farm gave me some insight into their lives, what they leave behind, and what they work towards when they get here.
Ramos tells the story of two different women who are hired to gestate eggs for very wealthy families, and the conditions they endure to make the kind of money that will radically alter their lives. She consistently highlights the differences each woman, one an American college graduate, considered an elite womb, and the other, a Filipina immigrant with no other options who has also left behind a very young daughter to take on this task. In between, we learn of the restrictions at The Farm; all plausible, all likely in the case that someone does come up with this distardly scheme.
While The Farm has the air of a story that could be from the future, a sort of dystopic vibe because of the restrictions of the actual farm the women stay on while they are pregnant, there’s nothing about it that couldn’t be total present day. It’s striking when you realize they are sold off into 9 months of restricted indentured servitude, forfeiting all rights as a corporation manages to find ways to ensure that the people carrying children inside them can’t do anything that might harm these profitable assets.
The characters are realistically and sympathetically drawn, just as the plot and the possible scenario is. My only complaint was that it took a while to get going, and then wrapped up a bit too quickly. I’d have like to have seen a bit more space for the end of the book to settle into the consequences and reactions everyone has to the final bit of action.