The author of Wonder (1991) presents another perceptive story about kids in the same junior high. Here, she focuses on eighth-grader Whitman Levy, just beginning to be preoccupied by his potential with girls when his parents decide to split up. First glimpsed in a comical opening scene in a closet with popular Sheila during a party game, he's unsure ""how you get started""; he's also good friends with nice, bright Andi, who is black, but ends up with irrepressible Owen, his wife in the school production of Bye, Bye Birdie. Meanwhile, best friend Doug slights Andi in another kissing game but, though Doug's racism deeply distresses Whit, he never quite realizes that nice Mackey is actually becoming a better friend. More distressing, Dad starts an affair with Liz, attractive young director of the play. Still, Whit is ready to meet Dad halfway when he tries to make peace, as he did with Doug; and in the midst of performing his big scene on stage, he has an epiphany: he may not he able to turn the world back like Superman, but he's still empowered: ""I could screw up or I could he amazing, and there's no turning back, no do-overs. It felt like flying."" As she did so skillfully in Wonder, Vail enriches an accessible story with sharply observed characters, especially a likable protagonist who confronts the complicated task of growing up with humor, intelligence, and good will.