A first novel earns much of its likable plausibility from Laurie Ramsey, whose thirteenth summer, while one of many excitements, is also the time when her ""sad learning lose started"" and she begins to assess the adult world around her on her own terms. The arrival for her Uncle Martin, an actor, from England, is momentous, and just in time to ushion her against the sorry affairs which are taking place at home. For Elinor, her fostermother, attracted to a visiting writer Roger Degen- strictly a hit and run man, was asked Charles for a divorce and has curtailed his privileges. Charles, submerging imself in liquor, is more drunk than sober and occasions town gossip about a possible lirtation with his secretary which Elinor encourages- in order to assure her own escape. his ricochets on Laurie in a fight with her best friend which cuts her off from her other contemporaries; she runs away, and escapes a sordid experience; the death of the faithful Negro retainer- John T.- whom Elinor has refused to visit- confirms her new knowledge of her mother's hardness of heart; and she walks out on the degrading finale between Elinor nd Charles to find Martin.... All this takes place in Lebanon, Mississippi, and there's warm vitality to Laurie, and more than a little ready recognition for what goes on around in this small southern town.