In an unusual triangular romance, two new friends help a disabled teen-ager develop a sense of self-worth. Seven years after being accidentally shot by his cousin Scott, Alex returns to the scene to visit his grandmother. There he reencounters Scott and also meets Claire, a 20-year-old Irish housekeeper hired for the summer. Scott is now a big, boyish teen, all surface, while Alex is a brooding intellectual, handicapped more profoundly by his mother's zealous overprotection than by being wheelchair-bound. Nonetheless, the two boys hit it off--visiting the mall, zooming about on Scott's motorcycle, even hiking in the woods. Both are smitten with Claire, whose occasional journal entries provide a cleareyed analysis of their emotional states as well as the stirring of her own feelings--toward Alex, not Scott. By summer's end, Scott and Claire have helped Alex break out of his mother's chains; eagerly and triumphantly, he declares his independence. Meyer sensitively describes various attitudes of and toward disabled people, as well as some specific characteristics of Alex's partial paralysis. Claire seems wise and experienced beyond her years; still, all three main characters are well drawn and treated with respect.