Pow. This is a year in the life of Bernie Hergruter of Hobbes High on Long Island, some time during the Sixties, and it seems very busy even if Bernie considers it ""shapeless."" Bernie's a nice average youngster, not too sensitive and not too smart-assed (this book is not for Walton-watchers), and he has a lot of things on his mind which make Of Human Bondage hard to focus on. After all, there's his own home, not sweet, home where his old man is usually juiced up or hassling him or his mother; there's a tennis match in which he's sure to disgrace himself when he's sent in as the team's ""most improved"" player; and there are girls sex girls sex girls with all that verbalized achievement-testing though he finally makes it fully and wonderfully with Barbara. But most of all he's haunted by his enemy, Richard Linwood, a boy with a stump for a hand but a stump that throws rocks and carries a switchblade and even an old Nazi gun. Bernie's sure it was Richard who killed his dog Zekey; he's not sure whether Richard will really rip off his head or slice off his dick. After all, he hasn't got a ""will of iron"" like Genghis Khan or the ""meanness"" his black friend Latham says he needs, and he chickens at every confrontation, until the last one. Bredes' novel has lots going for it what with its high phosphate spirits, humor, and sense of growing up real.