After two books away from home (The Luck of Ginger Coffey and An Answer from Limbo) Brian Moore is back in his native Ireland and it would seem that Gavin Burke, even though he's really too young to be blighted-- he's only 17--will be another one of Moore's tormented ineffectuals. In a funk over his matric, he's left school and joined the F.A.P. (First Aid Party), a rather scruffy group of misfits which is either an object of anti-British stigma or ridicule. Gavin lives with the fear of failure; he also entertains many concupiscent thoughts which his conscience intermittently attempts to monitor. His family disapproves of him; his girl, a student nurse in a nearby hospital, avoids him; a new friend in the A.R.P. introduces him to an advanced set of boozers, fags, left wingers, etc. with whom he doesn't really belong. And, after several sorties into the grown-up world, he finds it ""no different from school, it was a world where bullies came out best, where excuses satisfied no one, least of all one's self, where cowardice corroded one's soul and left one sick."" The finale, however, with its powerful scene of destruction and reclamation, not only makes a man of Gavin but stiffens the spine of the book.... Moore, certainly one of the major minor talents writing today, has never been quite able to align his readership with his reputation; a pity-- he's (a consummate realist with a wonderful sense of life, funny and sad simultaneously.