An introspective young man loses one family but gains another. Jeff ""Ice"" Waters may be going to college on a football scholarship, but both game and school stay in the distant background. His parents long dead, he has been raised by his uncle Forrest, a hard drinker who has difficulty holding a job. Jeff is increasingly occupied by classmate Stacy Cottrell and her friendly, undemanding parents; he finds that he fits comfortably into their family routine. As the title suggests, the story is built around character contrasts: between rough-cut Forrest and Stacy's father, quiet and solid; between Stacy and her fragile, domestic mother; between Jeff and Stacy's restless, rootless brother. When Forrest suffers a stroke, Jeff is half-surprised to discover in himself a sense of family loyalty. He decides to quit school to care for his uncle, but Forrest dies of a second stroke before that becomes necessary. With him dies the last traces of Jeff's loneliness. Since the plot is secondary to Jeff's ruminations on family values and obligations, Hensley's book has a rather dreamlike pace, but meditative readers will find plenty of food for thought. A sensitive, well-crafted novel.