Through most of this, eighth-grader Connie sulks, and what could be real, if insensitive, displacement pains are too overdone to win anyone's sympathy, let alone identification. She's mad at her dad for being laid off as a Vice President and being seen in an unemployment line, and then for taking a night janitor's job; she's mad that the family has to leave its ""real"" house and move to an older one, mad that old Aunt Berthe has moved in with them and shares her room, mad that snobbish Leora Hyde (who prattles of ancestors, family background) rubs all of this in, and mad that cute Joel who comes over to garden with Aunt Berthe is going steady with Leora. Then, toward the end, there's a rush of action: Joel and Leora break up; Joel is busted for drugs, then cleared; Connie is accused of being the accuser, then cleared; Leora's alcoholic father attempts suicide and Connie saves him with mouth-to-mouth. . . and it's finally clear how happy Connie's family is and how unfortunate Leora's. And how cliched and obvious the author's intent, how crudely hammered home.