Set in lower and middle class Milwaukee in 1940 this is a first novel about a young boy's gropings toward maturity. The novel is told in the third person in a reasonably straightforward way but it has two main defects: there's nothing of special or even real interest about the book's ordinary young hero and the fact that he's given to whining, self-pitying speculations of a psychological and sociological nature does not serve to endear him to the reader. At sixteen Stefan has quite school and has a job delivering ice. He grows increasingly dissatisfied with this occupation and begins to wonder about the static nature of his existence; he had expected that life would consist of various decisions on his part which, once made, would change him and alter events and attitudes. The action takes place during one summer day and night in which Stefan argues with his mother (who has been deserted by his father), discusses life with his two buddies and sleeps for the first time with Eadie, a girl from the waterfront district. It is in fact one phase of this last activity which almost gets Stefan accused of rape and which occasions a long drunken hystorical orgy with his pals. Finally, after raising a lot of questions which receive no really satisfactory answers, Stefan manages to reach, in his own mind, a kind of truce with his mother and a new level of understanding with Eadie. They agree just to accept things the way they are. But by this time what these dull selfishly self-conscious people do has become of little moment.