The intellectual adventuring of an adolescent, as Michael, summer jobbing in Portland, Oregon, bound for home and Harvard, meets Ben Baum, curious, argumentative, alive, and joins him in bumming across the country. Ben provides a sounding board and a spur to Michael's new awareness of life, his doubts about his future, he opens his eyes to the questions their generation will have to answer, and sends him home, enough dissatisfied so that his usual life seems out of focus. The girl he thought he loved is going to marry his roommate; he is attracted by Aileen, engaged to smart thinking Sherm. He leaves Harvard, goes to the University of Chicago, and there -- under Ben's guidance -- makes the grand tour of things that are definitely Not Done, experiencing through the lives of others, much that he has missed. Ben is killed in a tangle with the police and Michael's security is further shaken. His love of Alleen answers part of his quest, but fear drives him into accepting his uncle's offer of a job in Washington. First, however, he works as switchman at the railroad, is injured, and wakes up to his need to stay in Chicago and take whatever may come to him and Aileen. It is a book of the younger generation, -- adventuring with the mind, with physical crises to point up climaxes; it has honesty and some autobiographical feel; it is characteristic of youth's desire to learn the answers themselves, to determine for themselves the part they want to play. Overlong for its substance.