Luke and Angela have been an. item since nursery school, but as 9th grade begins a new Luke returns (to Austria) from a vacation in England. Separation from the active and verbally fluent Angela, he says, has made him realize the need to develop his own personality. As he has no particular inner resources on tap, he decides to begin with an outward image--bizarre clothes, an ancient bicycle, total candor, and a habit of knitting which drives his inflexible old teacher nuts. But the new Luke also attracts the admiration of his classmates, and the attentions of a 22-year-old beauty who likes his wild new way of dancing. Luke, enamored, borrows money from his classmates for nightly dates with the older woman--while Angela, though not yet ready for kissing and such, suffers from his strayed attention and the evident changes for the worse in Luke. At the same time, she is bothered by her parents' quarrels and the suspicion that their marriage is not as sound as she had thought. Despite the fact that Angela is mostly just brooding over the behavior of others, her own personality and developmental glitches come across--her habit, for example, of taking ""refuge in illness"" when unhappy. In another plus for the story, Angela recovers and takes control. First, she confronts her parents with her worries about them, and, later, she goes to Luke's aid and comfort when he is most despondent. Nostlinger's setting is consciously contemporary--mothers into women's lib and so on--but unlike most American juveniles with similar material and universally shallow, stereotypical characters, this has sparks of wit and a cast of parents and children alike who are intelligent, if sometimes befuddled, human beings.