The message, as five black families try to integrate an all-white town, is that love is stronger than hate but before the announcement is made and everyone goes off arm in arm, a black boy must drown and his most vicious white opponent must lose his hostility trying to save him. The gesture is typical of the overdrawn characterizations throughout--obtuse adults (both black and white) watching their children take the initiative. That a minister would invite five black families to camp on his land until they find homes is a dubious situation to begin with, a case further strained by the general unpreparedness of the blacks (among them a physicist and an engineer) and the cliched responses of the whites (property values, schools, smells). In contrast to their wishy-washy parents, the teenagers take firm stands and act on their beliefs: a white girl invites some black boys to a dance and suggests they stand around so kids will get used to them and the local, long-haired, relevance-hunting rebel is inspired to go to a Negro college. Some of the incidents are undeniably ugly--""Nigger lover"" scrawled on a car, a Klannish uprising to scare off the invaders--but there is no character or point of view for the reader to rely on. The last may be the most realistic reflection of modern life but it doesn't make a book.