Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1284
Lots of issues
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Odette is NOT happy with her parents. They have decided, without consulting her, to sell their house and most of their belongings, but a camper, and drive from their home in Southern California to her grandmother's house on Orcas Island because her grandmother is ailing. Odette is very sad to leave her best friend, Meiko, and is very annoyed at everything. Her parents' marriage is rocky, her father has lost his job, and her brother Rex is on the Autism spectrum and is prone to "furies". To put a cherry on top of her misery sundae, Odette's father has brought her a small, Terrier mix dog instead of a black lab, the family gets rid of all cell phones but one, and even though her parents can have a full size coffee maker in the camper, Odette can only bring one throw pillow. When they finally arrives in Washington state, they find that Grandma Sissy is not doing well at all, and the family must figure out a way forward.
Good Points
While this has many sad things in it, the book is overall a hopeful one, and Odette's reactions to her family's decisions will seem familiar and realistic to middle grade readers. Grandma Sissy especially understands the feeling of helplessness that is bothering Odette, and gives her good advice about many things. Readers should know that the grandmother, who is suffering from terminal cancer, does decide to take medicine to end her life, but this is handled in a sympathetic and nonjudgmental way.

Like Applegate's Crenshaw, Far From Fair addresses economic instability in a fashion that will make middle grade readers see how a family could fall on hard times, and will hopefully make them more empathetic no matter what their own family situation is. The same is true of the treatment of Rex's behaviors. What makes this book work is that all of the situations are framed by how they affect Odette, and these situations do not stop her from having the same concerns, angers and every day experiences that all middle graders have. One particularly telling scene has her upset because her mother has dropped the family phone into the water; she doesn't think she has any right to be upset because of her grandmother's situation, but her mother acknowledges that it's still okay to be upset about small things.

From the yard sale that starts the book, to the camping out across the Pacific coast, to the eventual stop on Orcas Island with all of its difficulties, Far From Fair is a page turning look at how one girl deals with a variety of challenges in her life and manages to find a way to meet them with good humor and hope.
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