Eric and Paul, entering tenth grade as part of an advanced studies program, have always been inseparable, with Eric playing the role of follower. Now, competition enters: Eric, grappling with the meaning of heroism while reading Beowulf, decides to step into the limelight. He secretly worships Melanie, but she has a crush on Paul--who doesn't exactly discourage her. When Paul confides that he might be gay, Eric bows out of the friendship entirely. Only when a nasty teacher threatens to reveal Paul's secret does Eric abandon competition to support his friend. Unfortunately, what begins here as a compelling drama about the shifting nature of friendship gets sidetracked by undeveloped elements: Eric's obsession with Melanie (an elusive character, distant and two-dimensional); Paul's home life (supposedly stressful, but this is only glimpsed). The sideshow of troubled teens is endless: one faces the fact that he is a hopeless ""cripple""; another learns she may never be Olympic gymnastics material; Paul confronts his homosexuality. Too many dragons, too little story.