Shep Youngman, 15, has been waiting for his father all his life; except for infrequent visits and phone calls, Joey, a stand-up comic, has been too absorbed with himself and his career to be a father. Suddenly, Joey resurfaces after a two-year absence and tells Shep that he loves him and wants the two of them to live together. After wavering between staying with his mother and going with Joey, who still shows signs of emotional unreliability, Shep decides to give Joey a chance--but the man he moves in with is not the ""reformed"" dad he has hoped for. Still, though Shep does return home, he is now certain that Joey loves him, and he can accept the limits of that love. Shep is very likable; his discomfort over traits he shares with his father (he too is a funnyman and a bit self-absorbed) is quite believable. In contrast, the mother comes off as a terrible martyr, too endlessly understanding of her ex-husband's egotism to be real. The first-person narration also disappoints at times by leaving the reader to surmise what Shep is feeling--particularly at the critical point when he must decide whether to live with his mother or his father. Still, a highly readable, if uneven, portrayal of the longing many kids feel for an absent parent.