Review Detail

Kids Fiction 118
Summer in Portland
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Mac lives with her parents, Hank and Coral, in a small house in Portland. Small, as in she sleeps in the living room with the occasional chicken and her dresses is a small basket. Her parents are Millenial hippies who host summer festivals, play bongos, are part of a naked bike riders group and bring in goats for goat yoga. This all exasperates Mac, who just wants to escape by going to a computer coding camp instead of having to hang out with her parents over the summer. The cost is $500, but she hopes to get her more main stream uncle, James, to plead her case. When James arrives, he has rebranded himself as Coho and has bought into the parents' alternative lifestyle ways. Needing another plan, Mac finds out about a local food truck competition-- collect ten clues from different trucks and win $2,000. She enlists her two best friends, but they are both busy. One is a competitive swimmer pushed by her parents into something she doesn't really want to do, and the other is having family problems she is not sharing with Mac. Once they are too busy, she finds an odd ally in Joey, a boy from her school who has initiated several good projects at school, but seems to turn up at the most serendipitous times. Also to his credit is that he doesn't seem to care about the fact that Mac's parents do goat yoga or ride bikes naked, because he has bigger parent problems of his own. Will the two manage to win the money and use it to help ameliorate the problems in their lives?
Good Points
The intergenerational squabbles are spot on for middle grade; no matter what your parents are like in middle school, they can be embarrassing, and Mac's parents have turned this into an art form. Since they are earthy/crunchy/granola, of course she is interested in technology and wants to code! The depiction of Portland is interesting, and the fact that Joey and Mac are able to wander around on their own will be intriguing to young readers, who may not have this freedom! Joey's story adds a level of seriousness to Mac's rather lighthearted complaints. Definitely a book from which many readers could learn new things!

The idea of living in a tiny house is an interesting one, and I think younger readers would have benefited from more of a description/explanation of Mac's home. I liked that the story started out quickly, but Mac's house was so interesting that I wanted to know more. The same goes for the food truck contest-- my town doesn't have food trucks except at festivals, so the idea that they are just hanging around in the streets was fascinating
.
Worse Than Weird wasn't that weird, but it was a bit quirky. I always enjoy books that show me how people go about their daily lives in an environment different from my own. Hand this to readers who want to see how other people live and who enjoyed books like Respicio's The House That Lou Built, Nielsen's No Fixed Address, and Svetcov's Parked.
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