The mounting hatred 17 year old Joe has for his father, Harry, is concentrated in the story of the boy's realization that ""my old man"" worked in his rough way to keep the boy from going under the pressures of small town conformity. His mother dead, Joe's feelings about his father's slopping away at the bottle, about his mean and hateful actions, about his insensitivity towards a boy's dreams and ambitions, become more and more inimical, until, when Joe gets a chance to work in the local bank, ""my old man"" really puts the lid on it with a big drunk that lands him in jail and gets the offer of the job retracted. But, with his death, he hands on the freedom of action he himself has lived. Joe's dog, Orchard in his own mean, hateful way, has just as much of a hand in the boy's growth into adulthood. Sordid in its detail, the ""crap and not crap"" ends at last in pity and grulging understanding. Not for the Grace Livingston Hill audience.