This charming debut is a funny and cynical coming-of-age novel about a sullen teenager who discovers storytelling as a way to control his rage. Marshall Field Finney has a lot to be angry about. A high- school sophomore with few friends, he lives with his parents in ``Washington Park,'' a crackerbox housing development for black folk outside St. Louis. With a gripe against ``unfair'' existence, Marshall can't stand his parents (``a deranged Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima'') and sinks further into a funk when his high-strung mother walks out on him and his father, who manages the local landfill. Comically self-absorbed, Marshall pretends not to care, settling into easy bachelorhood with his brooding father, ``the trash king of St. Louis County.'' Marshall's two best buddies are his only allies in misery. Artie, a slow-witted mama's boy with a GQ wardrobe, lives above his grandmother's general store; and Todd, Marshall's redheaded protector, is the worst-off--he's ``P.W.T.'' (poor white trash). When Marshall rejects the special attention of his p.c. English teacher, she settles for the smitten Todd, who remakes himself in her radical image. Meanwhile, at home, Marshall's dad resigns himself to his wife's absence and begins a stream of short-lived romances, ranging from Annie B. Semple, who eats in her sleep, to Gayle, a no-nonsense nurse who begins to chip away at Marshall's tough exterior. Haynes places Marshall's historically-charged question ('What am I, invisible?') in a modest context, a boyish search for identity. With its gentle mockery of victimology and its smart-mouthed humor, Haynes's artful fiction should appeal to a wide audience, including the savvy YA crowd.