Felix is a very smart kid who loves a trivia gameshow called "Who, What, Where, When". He also loves his mom Astrid despite the fact that she sometimes goes into a "slump" where she loses her job doesn't do such a great job taking care of them. Most recently, she lashed out at one of her friends who was letting Felix and Astrid live in her basement. After the fight, Astrid decides they will live in a van - just for a month, until she finds a new job and gets the money to rent a new apartment. At first it's an adventure but as time goes on and there is no permanent home on the horizon, Felix is having more problems dealing with his homelessness. When he hears that his favorite gameshow is hosting a junior competition with a big enough prize to solve their money problems, he knows he has to win.
I love me some Susin Nielsen. Everything she writes has great characters and deep themes that she incorporates smoothly, before you know that you're reading something important. Felix is a great character who is forced to be the parent but still reacts to things like a kid would. Astrid is also a good character in her complexity. She is not a good parent by any means, but she's not a monster either as many authors would be tempted to write her. In addition, Felix's belief that "Who, What, Where, When" is the solution to all their problems is realistic in how it plays out. Their descent into serious trouble comes about slowly with each decision seeming somewhat reasonable or temporary, rather than in one sudden catastrophe. There are some happy turns of events at the end of the book but they are still within the realm of possibility and I like having some hope in a book so I'm okay with that.