Toby Bright is coming,"" said Aunt Rose. Thus signaling the end of Jessie Preston's childhood pleasures -- playing Robin Hood with cousin Frances, launching bottles with notes bearing the forged signature of President Truman, and practicing her shoplifting skills by snitching lipsticks from the ladies locker room at the pool. Gray skinned and pockmarked, Toby nonetheless makes Jessie's ""stomach chum. . . with love,"" producing the same sensation she felt that time when her prized morels turned out to be worm infested -- ""I learned three things that day: that grown-ups were not always right, what saute meant, and a peculiar aura of nausea that had some connection with love and some connection with death, I did not know what."" Toby soon returns to Baltimore and Jessie runs away to join him, only to be sidetracked by an engaging cabbie-cum-poet Bob Brunelli who's at first charmed by her childishness and then appalled to learn that she really is much younger than the sixteen years she'd claimed. Safely delivered home from her one day foray into adulthood, Jessie settles down to face the troth about her illegitimacy and transfer her explosive affections to classmate Bobby Lowenstein. Jessie's need to turn every blooming honeysuckle and wormy mushroom into an epiphany makes this soupy going at times. But if you can get on her wavelength, all that adolescent angst can be curiously (masochistically?) enjoyable.