In the beginning Ruth's older sister Liz is marrying her longtime boyfriend Len though both are just out of high school (""Of course they'll be happy"" is Ruth's persistent comment), and soon Mum and Dad are off for ""the vacation of a lifetime"" in Majorca and Ruth, fifteen, is shipped off for a week with the newlyweds. All of this leads to a good deal of reflection on Ruth's part about happy families like hers, about marriages like Liz and Len's--struggling, loving and potentially strong, and ultimately about her own shift away from dreams of rock star Joel Bison and toward involvement with the unhappy family of old friend Harold next door. Slow at first and even-toned throughout, this might be called introspective if it got that far in; really it just proceeds along the surface of Ruth's thoughts and daily existence--both outwardly drab. However, McNeill is good at projecting the textures of working class life, and never manipulative in her optimism. And her always well drawn supporting cast includes one old lady in the downstairs flat who does her share of perking things up.