Atlanta's Marvin Stewart and Tige Jackson aren't exactly the freshest characters around. Mary's the courtly bum, the advertising exec who dropped out, lives around if not in the bottle, but will do nothing more illegal than pose as a blind beggar. And Tige--well, Tige is that streetwise, thieving little black boy, acting older than he is, but vulnerable and cute as a button under all that bravado. When Tige's Mama dies (after she lost her job, she started hustling and Tige started pimping), he considers suicide, but Marvin wanders by, talks him out of it, and takes him in to share his squalor. Tige is suspicious of Whitey, of course, but soon they're a team--Marvin correcting Tige's grammar and curbing his larceny, Tige trying to wean Marvin off the sauce. As you might guess, This Cannot Last, and, when undernourished Tige contracts pneumonia, Marvin hunts down the kid's real father, who--having kept Tige a secret--hesitates before taking him into his middle-class family. Newcomer Glass is unself-conscious enough to provide a thoroughly happy ending, Tige growing into his new home and visiting Marv, to whom he can finally say, ""I love ya."" But only the most tolerant readers will put up with the other byproducts of Glass' naivetÃ‰--the cutesy dialogues (""Don't you hit me, man, I'll call the NAACP""), the questions-and-answers about racial discord and harmony. Not that Glass is untalented. Some images take hold (Tige's mother's death, the Thanksgiving parade on TV in a bar), and, amid the sentimentality, a few knocked-about, knowing observations: ""The only thing worse than having drunks for neighbors was having married drunks for neighbors."" Otherwise--black and white like licorice and sugar.