Katie Norman, 16, is gorgeous, brilliant, witty, a poet, a caricaturist, a linguist, and owner of a red Porsche. Why does she kill herself off in lurid trance-like fantasies, as well as try to drown? Knock back all her stepmother's valiums with a bourbon chaser? And drive the Porsche along ""hairpin grades. . . precipitous drops at the left. . . at the right. . . no guardrails"" into the night? Because ""her real mother dumped her when she was nine."" Because the 25-year-old whom her father married to provide her with a mother threatens mental hospitals and electroshock, and won't let her near her little half-brother ""Cutepig,"" the only human being Katie freely loves. Another reason may be that suicide, ""the number one cause of death among teenagers,"" as Bonham keeps insisting, seems a sure bet--and when the method is overkill, three tries would seem surer than one. Deep down, Katie wants love. She plants convoluted come-rescue-me clues for Dana, her biology lab partner. Via Dana, also brilliant, the reader learns all about breeding rare love birds. Katie runs phoney ads offering the rarest breeds at bargain prices. This nearly wrecks the business, indirectly causes the death of Dana's best bird, but brings him to her side and pads out the plot. The other person Katie alerts--by book reports on famous suicides and a too-accomplished poem about the Porsche, ending, ""'Tis very sure I'll die in mine""--is Amanda Allan, combination counselor and English teacher. Amanda encourages the already smitten Dana to get Katie to open up, ""to pick her lock""--which he all but does, in a steamy Jacuzzi scene. Finally, on his moped, he saves her from the Porsche and those hairpin grades, and sees her safely to a phone booth from which she calls a clinical psychologist. With picturesque Southern California locales--surfing beach, aviaries, orange grove--this seems all set up to be a TV movie: it's shallow, lurid, and transparent.