A sketchy and ultimately unconvincing first novel about a Los Angeles girl who leaves high school and her alcoholic mother to attend community college, attracting a callous boyfriend and an unbalanced admirer along the way. Melissa, a tall, tough-talking 18-year-old, is released from a downtown detention center. She has languished in ""juvie"" for two weeks, but her mother drives her straight back to ""Asshole High"" without a word. Still wearing the party clothes she got busted in (we never find out why she was busted), Melissa drifts through the halls of her big anonymous school like a punk ghost. Back home, she smokes joints in the parking lot of the seedy apartment building she shares with her mother, coming inside only when her mother has passed out. In short order, she gets suspended (for lighting up a cigarette when her guidance counselor tells her she can't graduate early). After a series of desultory jobs, her speed-freak brother and his handsome friend Gary appear on the scene, inspiring her to get her own place and enroll in a community college. Suddenly, sullen Melissa blooms, studying art and spending all her spare time in the photography studio. She also starts a torrid but emotionally brutal affair with Gary. One night, she notices Darrell, a creepy man from her photography class, following her through the streets. She confronts him and winds up inviting him in for tea. Darrell starts tagging after her, demanding that she love him in a platonic way, then soon disappears. The novel ends with Darrell's explanation of his disappearance; it seems he is merely lurking ambiguously in the shadows--a harmless, unattractive man who may be unbalanced. An inept attempt at a blue-collar Fatal Vision, with dashes of Georgie Girl and social commentary thrown in.