An exercise in psychological adjustment so banal that even the jacket-copy gets it right: ""With her mother recently remarried, Julie Howard feels like a nuisance--as much of a bother to her stepfather as the stray cat she befriends in their new neighborhood."" Thirteen-year-old Julie in fact names the cat Nuisance because--as she explains to her bird-loving stepfather--""I know that's the way you feel about it."" (""And she could have said. . . 'about me.' "") But slowly--very slowly--Julie's self-pitying resentment and all-around moping give way to recognition that her mother does understand her longing for a cat to take care of; even, that earnest stepfather Stephen is more to be relied on than her joshing, fun-to-be-with Dad. The consolation throughout is whimsical 15-year-old neighbor Cal--who calls Julie ""Princess Jewel,"" confesses to a secret insecurity too, and encourages her to take ""control."" (""You were a nuisance when you were like the cat. Hanging around all the time. Not able to do anything for yourself."") So she sets out to find a home for Nuisance, and does. The narrative moves along smartly in its own schematized, stick-figure fashion--and even Julie isn't the pain that she would be if any of this could be taken seriously.