A bruising story of an ultimately caring brother-and-sister relationship that barely survives a tough city environment. Catherine, who wants to be a writer, has nothing in common with other fictional, determined scribblers such as Jo March or Anne Shirley, who exhibited the ability to transform their worlds and experiences into art. The vocation of Cat, 17, is never convincingly portrayed; instead, Stoehr (Weird on the Outside, 1995, etc.) gives readers a shallow, obnoxious young woman who thrills at the ""power trip"" of wearing the red leather boots that reach ""almost to my crotch"" to help her land the big tips at the New York City social club/mob hangout where she waitresses. Cat is upset that brother Mickey is eager to enter the mob world and is delivering and using cocaine. Cat starts using, too, and by book's end she has a raging habit that sends her rashly seeking out her dealer. The sensational plot ends abruptly with both Cat and Mickey easily kicking their habits, and a letter from Bard College spelling a rosy future for Cat. The novel may be a voyeuristic thrill for those who a) have never snorted cocaine from a toilet seat, and b) harbor crushes on up-and-coming John Gotti-types. The characters aren't likable, even when they are believable, while the lurid world they inhabit is offered in admiring glimpses. It wouldn't matter if Stoehr didn't show such promise, but she does, and here it goes largely unfulfilled.