“No one ever said life was fair,” was my mother’s standard response when I commented on the fairness, or more likely, unfairness, of something. In Elana K. Arnold’s Far From Fair,
12-year-old Odette Zyskoski feels that her parents are making a lot of unfair decisions. She has to sell most of her possessions in a garage sale because her parents have sold their house and bought an RV. She has to give up her cell phone and the family will share one. Things are not looking very hopeful.
Publisher’s Summary: Odette has a list: Things That Aren’t Fair. At the top of the list is her parents’ decision to take the family on the road in an ugly RV they’ve nicknamed the Coach. There’s nothing fair about leaving California and living in the Coach with her parents and exasperating brother. And there’s definitely nothing fair about Grandma Sissy’s failing health, and the painful realities and difficult decisions that come with it. Most days it seems as if everything in Odette’s life is far from fair but does it have to be?
With warmth and sensitivity Elana Arnold makes difficult topics such as terminal illness and the right to die accessible to young readers and apt for discussion.
Odette starts off as a grumpy middle-schooler. Over the course of the book we see her become less self-centered and more mature. In spite of all the bad things happening in Odette’s life, the book is hopeful and ends in a good, realistic way. Like many people, Odette can objectively see that her negative attitude is a problem. We see her struggle and learn to manage her feelings. When her mother drops the family phone into the water, Odette doesn’t think she has any right to be upset because of her grandmother’s situation. Her mother acknowledges that it’s still okay to be upset about small things.
The book tackles big issues of economic hardship and the right to die effectively, without being preachy. Readers don’t have to like or agree with everything, but they will be left with some things to think about.