First-novelist Pinsker sensitively explores the dimensions of her characters to create interesting and moving portraits. Bo Barrett, who has always been overweight, has had a crush on Howard Nevelson since the spring school show in which they appeared together. She knows that he's beyond her dreams because he's slim, popular, and two years older. When class resumes in the fall, however, Howard is a changed man. Apparently because of his mother's sudden death, he has spent the summer eating, and suddenly they have something in common. A relationship begins to grow that Bo insists is a mere friendship, since obviously Howard will drop her when he drops the pounds. But Howard does not seem inclined to diet; and a confrontation at his old girlfriend's party makes Bo realize that she must face her real feelings--and Howard's. The plusses here are an original plot and central characters who are realized with humor and style. The minuses are the author's penchant for endless descriptions of Bo's interior workings; an abrupt ending which does not seem well worked out; and peripheral characters who are incompletely developed. In balance, however, this is a very promising debut.