My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.
This was one of my favorite books as a kid (actually, everything by Uchida is great), so this will probably be a terrible review. It's been a while since I've read it and it did that thing all books from my childhood do. It seems to have shrunk since I read it last.
But while the story isn't as long as I remember it being, it's still just as good. Maybe even better. I didn't remember the racism Rinko and the boys experience at the train tracks and I didn't really remember the old man's storyline. I also don't remember it being set in the Bay Area. But everything I do remember (the kites, riding the trains, Rinko's outside bath) is there.
The Best Bad Thing feels like a lot of MG books I read as a kid. A spunky heroine on her own (mostly) for the first time. Adventures happen to her, and she changes over the course of the book. It's historical fiction but still very relatable. If you like Cynthia Kadohata's books, you'll like Yoshiko Uchida. They often deal with similar subjects, but Uchida's books tend to be cheerier (from what I remember).