The principal is Robert Evans, 41, recently widowed and childless, who comes to Pine Hills, a New York community, to replace a much loved man who has grown old in his job. Evans refuses to be ""politic, pleasant and safe"" as he intrudes in sensitive areas, disposes of latent pressures and longstanding prejudices, and scuttles cliche concepts. But there are the parents, pupils and personnel who give him a hard time: he suspends the son of a member of a schoolboard and a teacher; he traces a missing boy and gives him the chance he needs; he compromises in his defence of one teacher, but then refuses to back down in his championship of another when a local minister distorts a ""social error"" into a sexual offense. He also resolves his own personal life when he falls in love with the daughter of his predecessor.... Without any blackboard jungle jingoism or professional jargon, this is a steadily sympathetic story with as firm a footing in the ideas and issues involved as you are likely to find; as such it is a liberal education as well as attractive to read.