Kate's story, written in the first person as if in fulfillment of a high school assignment, is largely the chronicle of her gradual growing away from her mother and into her own fantasies and preoccupations. It -- ""my real life"" -- begins when she is nine with the discovery that she is adopted. Her father's death that day and her mother's remarriage the next year are early landmarks in the progress of her withdrawal which is both relieved and aggravated by her meeting with a dying film star Katie imagines to be her mother and by her later, more significant visit with an admired novelist who takes a possibly therapeutic interest in Katie's own writing career. Katie's observant, no-comment recitation gives both encounters a quiet credibility, and the whole narrative has more pace and vitality than its themes would indicate. We leave Katie at 16 in a school for ""intelligent girls who have gone off the rails a little,"" after her almost accidental involvement in a disorderly political demonstration has placed her under court jurisdiction. Grateful to her mother for allowing her this alternative to returning home, she has already given up on the new teacher, from whom (we learn at the end) she withholds this autobiography, submitting instead ""two pages of pupil-to-teacher semi-truths and downright lies."" Though there's no imminent re-railing in view, readers who have gone this far with Katie will have faith in her copability, and the story's comfortable balance between incident and introspection is likely to carry them this far.