Unassuming -- but not plodding -- novel of middle aged romance and youthful development, as quiet, percipient Lute, expert carpenter, with no formal education but deep knowledge, manages to raise his daughter Dorothy according to his precepts rather than his wife's, and through her friendship with the Andersons, falls in love with Dagmar, wife of a professor. Their love is mutual, but they keep it to themselves. Young Dorothy, after her mother's death, decides to go on to college, where her unconventional, inquiring mind piques ladykiller instructor Reed. Dorothy makes up her mind to go to Mexico with him. Her father can do nothing to stop her -- but Dorothy, though outwardly playing the game, finds Reed to be weak and false to her standards, and actually never lives with him, and eventually leaves him and hitchhikes home. Dagmar's son, Dan, seeks and finds her, and their childhood friendship ends in marriage. And their parents, drawn closer over Dorothy's escapade, find their way to a solid adjustment of their own lives. A competent understanding of two generation problems in terms of rebellion against mass conformation and insistence on individual growth and honest knowledge. But no hazards for conservatives. Setting -- the Northwest.