How it was for a 15-year-old girl in a Small Australian community during the 19305 depression. Valda admires her charming father, who has no trouble collecting kisses from the local women but is too proud to take ""sussie"" (sustenance, or welfare) and also too proud to take a job he doesn't fancy. So the family goes without shoes, the landlady threatens eviction, and Valda must coax the shopowner for groceries ""on tick."" Under the circumstances, Mother thinks they should soli Valda's horse Sabrina; but Valda won't hear of it, not even to send her ailing little brother to a specialist. In the end her father leaves home, her mother takes a sort-of nursemaid job so the family (and horse) will have food and lodging, and Valda goes off to life with dour, unloving Aunt Laura and make her own way in the city. Cotich's bleak, drab, even tone in projecting Valda's experience and feelings is appropriate to the material, and, though the novel is somewhat shapeless and far from stirring, it comes across as an authentic record.