Clifford leaves the exotic settings of her previous works for the closer-to-home scenes of this not quite preachy book about the elderly, introducing a nursing home with a few hearty battlers and their unlikely young champion, Opie Cross. Opie at 14 is caught between her parents' squabbles over her future (Mom says English teaching, Dad social work and involvement) and her own lack of interest in their choices. Opie initially visits the Maple Ridge Home for the Aged because a former neighbor has recently, reluctantly, moved there. At first, she's repelled--by the over-inquisitive porch greeters, the low morale and ubiquitous eccentrics--but gradually (this is another summer-transformation story) she sees more than shadowy outlines; individuals become important to her, she gets ""involved"" by turning their Family Fair into a block party, and the able-bodied home residents strike out on their own, buying a communal house on the street by sharing their resources. There's a battle first when some block residents resist the group, which gives them a day in court and Opie a glimpse of her future--in law, like Dad, so she can fight for people's rights. Clifford consistently rounds out her characters--we liked the kid who put a battery-operated car under his turtle to win the race--and offers a likable, intricately structured story with strong peripheral vision.