Peter moves to town in sixth grade, tearful over being abandoned by his mother and consequently tormented by the other boys. Marybeth sympathizes, comforts, and the two become an inseparable couple--until eleventh grade when Peter begins pressing for sex, Marybeth responds ambivalently, and at the same time a vivacious girl from the smart set puts the move on Peter. Marybeth suffers through his running around with Hillary and with other girls, waits while he buzzes off to Alaska for a summer of finding himself, but finally realizes his shallow immaturity when he abandons his just-widowed grandfather to join his glittery mother in Arizona. Giving up her steadfast love for Peter is difficult for Marybeth, but meanwhile she's become involved with some motherless children across the street--and behold, theft young father proves just the steady, devoted husband who can return her own wholehearted commitment. The deliberate pace and the focus on Marybeth's steady decency makes this more sober than the standard teen romance, but the characters are only a little less obvious and the outcome follows the formula to the last dot.