Bound To Stay Bound

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Booklist - 12/01/2015 No one asked 12-year-old Odette if she wanted to sell her stuff and move into an old RV. Yet here she is, along with her parents, little brother, a ferret, and her new dog—a tiny wiry-haired thing, not the Lab she wanted—traveling to Grandma Sissy’s on Washington’s Orca Islands. Nothing about this is fair. In such tight quarters, tensions run high, and Odette fumes over the injustice of having her life turned upside down. This falls away, however, when they arrive at Sissy’s and Odette can barely recognize the frail, sickly woman before her as her grandmother. Arnold explores the Death with Dignity Act as well as the strain of having an autistic sibling and parents whose marriage is on the rocks. These complex issues surround Odette as she struggles with personal losses—friends, home, cell phone—that feel trivial in comparison but are vital to middle-schoolers. Arnold (The Question of Miracles, 2015) deals with the many bumps in the road honestly, yet maintains an onward-and-upward outlook on life. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.

Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2016 Despite her parents’ and little brother’s enthusiasm, rising seventh-grader Odette bitterly resents having to move her entire life into a camper and leave her home and friends behind. Even the compensatory dog her father gets her is an infuriating disappointment, a little mutt rather than the Labrador she’s longed for. A thousand miles of travel don’t really soften Odette’s stance, but when the family makes their first big stop, with Odette’s Grandma Sissy in Washington’s San Juan Islands, Odette is faced with a much bigger concern: her grandmother’s fatal illness and plan for a legal assisted death. Arnold, author of A Question of Miracles (BCCB 2/15), again accessibly tackles a challenging subject here. The first part of the book is spot-on in its characterization of Odette, who is legitimately upset about the upheaval in her life but hasn’t yet figured out that hanging onto her anger is only hurting her. Her grandmother’s passing is handled sensitively yet matter-of-factly, and while the shift to the assisted-death plot may initially seem quite a subject change, it’s actually an effective complementary exploration of the overall theme of dealing with powerlessness. As Grandma Sissy says, “You may feel powerless over what is happening to you right now . . . and you are right. You are powerless, sometimes. Sometimes things happen, and we can’t stop them from happening.” Odette’s triumph is facing that truth while also recognizing things she does have some power to change (like making sure she sees the boy she likes before he leaves the island); the book’s triumph is exploring that truth while also acknowledging the adults could stand to give Odette a little more power. A tearjerker with a brain, this could prompt discussion not only of the right to die issue but also power and fairness. DS - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

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