First sentence: When Max's dad came to pick him up on Friday night he said, "Tomorrow, I will show you my new neighborhood."
Premise/plot: Max's parents are divorced and he spends the weekends with his Dad. This book chronicles three of those weekends with his Dad. We're not explicitly told if the three weekends are back to back. (I'd like to think they're not.)
The book is divided into three weekends. Each weekend reads like a little chapter book. (I believe each weekend is told in five chapters.) Weekend One is entitled "Spies." In this section, Max goes to his father's apartment for the very first time and sees his new room. Max's new craze is SPIES so when the two go out to explore the neighborhood the next day, they go as secret agent spies. Weekend Two is entitled "The Blues." In this section a couple of things happen: the two go furniture shopping because there's only one chair in the apartment...and Max empathizes with his Dad about missing open mike night. Max thinks his Dad is sad/disappointed/frustrated that he can't go to open mike night because he can't take Max with him. Max is super-sweet in this one and he invites the neighbors to their house for an open-mike night of their own. Weekend Three is entitled "Habitat." It may just be my favorite of the three. I really haven't decided yet. In this section, Max forgets part of what he needs to finish his homework project, invites his friend to sleepover at his dad's place, and generally comes to accept that "Yes, this is home, and this is where I belong too."
My thoughts: I really really liked this one. I'm not sure I LOVED it. But it was so good, so sweet. I loved meeting Max. He seems like such a great kid. I also enjoyed meeting the Dad. I liked that there wasn't really a focus on why the parents were newly divorced. No blame seemed to be passing back and forth. (But the Mom wasn't in this one at all, if I recollect.) The characterization felt authentic. Like these two were real and living in a real neighborhood. It was refreshing to have a middle grade book focusing on the the father-son relationship. I think many, many books are so focused on children that adults seem completely irrelevant to the plot.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews