Jan, 13, is unhappy about moving to suburban Forest Lawn, baby-sitting her little brother all summer, visiting her grandmother in a nursing home, and most of all, hearing her parents argue about ""the other woman."" She wants the family back on solid ground, but her only reference for a happier way of life is television. More and more involved in an afternoon soap opera, she almost believes she's part of the show's world. Others in the family are TV junkies, too; her father watches market repons and the news, and her brother has to be pried away from Nintendo. Perhaps Sargent is making a point about the negative influence of TV, but in doing so renders her characters flat and predictable. Jan makes real human contact a few times, and in these exchanges she comes to life. But most of the time she wallows in unhappiness--described in psychological language that doesn't fit her adolescent voice--or escapes into fantasy. These sequences, bound as they are by soap opera formulas, further homogenize Jan into popular culture; it's just plain hard to care very much about her.