A poignant but unsentimental informational novel featuring a teenager with muscular dystrophy. Simon's wheelchair barely slows him down; as best friend Nathan enviously looks on, he handles girls, teachers, punks, and even babies with cheeky, casual ease. Fully accepted at school and home, he's active in sports, has assigned chores and, as much as possible, takes care of his personal needs; this tour of his world is an eye-opener. Simon is a complex character -- mischievous generous, bossy, manipulative, capable of both rude practical jokes and sensitive poetry, and also strongly opinionated: He tears into telethons that segregate the disabled from mainstream society as well as adults who treat them as if they're invisible. Nathan, too, has intriguing depths; as Simon grows steadily weaker, he struggles not with his inevitable death, which he already accepts, but with his own mingled guilt and relief at drawing an easier lot. Though other characters are a bit too wise and supportive to be believable, this New Zealand author's first novel is a realistic mixture of humor, love, and sorrow.