An earnest yet rather thin variation on the pros and cons of Going All the Way--as 16-year-old Gabrielle Fuller (from Elmont, N.Y.) visits her best friend Buffy, a recent transplant to Southern California. Gabrielle is looking forward to a summer of renewed soulmate-ship. But it's immediately apparent that things are different out in the ""ha-ha land"" around L.A., with all the ostentation and plastic surgery and glamour. Above all, there's the difference in Buffy--who now has a sleepover boyfriend named Zack, college freshman (come fall) and ""Tree People"" ecologist. Gabrielle is naturally a little jealous, also more than a little confused. How did Buffy change so fast in her attitude--""something other girls did""--toward sex? ""Was it her year in California or was it that some people change more than others between sixteen and seventeen?"" Then, out on a grim double-date with Zack, Bully, and creepy Freddy, Gabrielle meets handsome, ""huggable,"" ""princely"" Brad, a.k.a. ""Bear""--the dashing son of a Hollywood producer. Soon he's taking Gabrielle for exciting scenic drives, giving her glimpses of the social whirl, kissing her seriously--and convincing her that this love was predestined. (""It was so mushy--but I loved it!"") But when Bear starts wanting to go beyond kisses, Gabrielle pulls back: ""The main problem was that physically I knew I was ripe for the picking but psychologically the soil still needed a little more cultivation."" Also, there's the disturbing example of Bully--who's having a relatively casual abortion. So Gabrielle goes back and forth, deciding whether or not to spend a weekend at Malibu with Bear--who angrily picks up a more willing bedmate. (""God, what do you expect, celibacy from a guy?"") And she finally realizes that Bear isn't a ""perfect prince,"" that she can be grown-up without rushing into sex: ""I wanted his love to warm me, not control me. And I took the power I had previously given to him. . . and gave it back to myself. . . . I no longer felt afraid to be different, because, after all, being true to yourself was synonymous with daring to be different."" Rather flat and humorless, sometimes reading like a ""Dear Abby"" or ""Dear Meg"" column in dramatic form--but decent, sturdy, and steadily focused.