Secure in a loving world of family and friends, Miranda begins eighth grade in her Boston private school. Still immature, she innocently shares activities like coauthoring a science-fiction romance with lifelong friend Gus, who lives upstairs. But the snake enters the garden when Miranda is accosted by an older boy while trick-or-treating with Gus. Housekeeper Emma takes it on herself to acquaint Miranda with her outmoded views on sex, which offends Miranda's mother; they quarrel, and Emma leaves--so that Miranda is alone when an unknown man comes to the apartment and almost succeeds in raping her. Thereafter, Miranda feels uneasy even with Gus and finds herself avoiding him. However, his gentle, reassuring efforts as he writes to her through his character in their story--plus Miranda's own resilience--enables her to respond in kind and continue their friendship. This has more in common with McDonnell's Count Me In (1986) than with her books for younger readers. Though Miranda is not drawn with much depth, her exploration of the nature of friendship and the problems of maturing make pleasant light reading. That the would-be rapist is never apprehended is disturbing, but not unrealistic.