Since his mother died three years ago, Jack has learned to make his own way through life. His sister is on another wavelength, his father usually comes home late, Aunt Elizabeth tries to dominate the household the way she dominates the town, and they have gone through many housekeepers. So when Jack's father announces that he has arranged to take in Maki, a 29-year-old exchange student from Okinawa, no one is thrilled. Maki, however, turns out to be just what everyone needed. Riggs's first novel gallops off in a dozen different directions at once; some of the problems are not entirely credible or are resolved too easily, while others dangle realistically, without coming to a clear resolution. Jack, who narrates, is an engaging and complex character, and readers will relate to his travails with bullies, a first girlfriend, his father's burgeoning interest in a woman, drinking, racism, and more. An overwrought, but still promising, debut.