The creator of A Girl Called Al (1969) is less at home, and her wise-guy dialogue less in tune, with the heavier trip of fourteen-year-old Mark, who spends the torn-up, resentful year this covers in a funk over his Dad's new wife. The memory of a time he grabbed and kissed her in an awkward but unfilial manner doesn't make it easy for Mark to accept Pat; and when Dad buys her a beautiful new car, Mark--feeling lower than ever after a humiliating experience with a girl--deliberately scratches it with brother Tony's fencing foil. Even his best friend Jeff says Mark is getting hard to take, and his disgusted father knows that something bad has to happen, it does, when underage Mark rashly takes Pat's old car for a spin round the block and lands Jeff and Tony in the hospital. Only then does the brooding self-pity begin to lift, and Mark begin to make peace with his stepmother--who, incidentally, has been a totally unindividuated model of tact and sympathy throughout. Like Jeff, readers will probably get fed up with Mark's unvarying, unelucidated mood, though like Jeff they might see him through--if only out of morbid curiosity.