Despite severe asthma and multiple allergies, Jacob hopes to escape his infuriatingly protective family and be just another kid in his new school on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It's not to be: by the time he walks into sixth grade he's already been a topic of discussion, and his classmates have prepared essays on how they would want friends to treat them if they were disabled. Despairingly, Jacob finds temporary refuge in the street. More lasting help comes from two new friends: Theodore, a blind newspaper vendor, and Cynthia, a free-spirited classmate with a passion for dancing † la Fred Astaire. Jacob views his treacherous body--and the people in his life--with wry humor, as well as with irritation that sometimes flashes into fury but never into fear, despite a brush with death brought on by the merest taste of pistachios on a soda straw. An honest, unsentimental first novel with a quirky cast and a happy ending.