It's a common story: a family abandons a farm whose crops no longer sustain them, only to discover that the city offers even less hope. Mehmet's feckless father leads his big extended family to Ankara, but the new life is bitter. Wealthy Uncle Yusuf's ""help"" means exploiting his relatives as landlord and employer; his wife is a mean gossip, their son a pampered, vicious sneak. Mehmet makes friends with illiterate, streetwise Muhlis, a talented artist; he also seeks out his best friend from home, whose parents had brought him to Ankhara for better schooling. But the brilliant Hayri, suddenly orphaned, is now starving and demented; Mehmet gets him to a wealthy woman who kindly takes him in, but, ironically, Hayri's new home and prospects set him beyond Mehmet's reach as a friend. Just as Mehmet and Muhlis are planning to return to Mehmet's village, Muhlis is killed in an accident that dramatizes the city's indifference to its poor. Leaving his family, Mehmet sets out for the village alone. HiÃ‡yilmaz, who ""lived in Turkey for many years,"" evokes the milieu with a skill, sympathy, and rich detail that recall Staples's Shabanu (1989); her characterizations may not be as deep, but even the many minor characters here are perceptively realized, while she contrasts the four boys' opportunities--functions more of luck than of native gifts or good will--in a gracefully fashioned plot growing naturally from her theme. A memorable story that will open minds and hearts.