The book’s protagonist is Michel, an eight-year-old Parisian boy. His brother Martin, who’s twelve, detests him, and he detests Martin right back. This summer, Michel will go away alone, which really means without his mom, to stay with his grandparents while his parents move apartments. To add to the horror, Michel’s older boy cousins will be going, too. As Michel says, “To put it simply, they are big, strong, and pals with Martin. I am their scapegoat.” Recounted by Michel himself, his vacation doesn’t turn out to be such a complete zero after all. Between a competition to see who can shower the least, wild bike rides without gear, and a tooth that finally falls out, Michel discovers both independence and real moments of happiness.