An evocative first novel filled with all the impatience of a girl who is at the age of being totally sure of where her future lies, until circumstances shake that certainty. Jamie has always felt confined in Sensaby, her small-town home, sick of its dust and its gossip bred from familiarity. Her dream is to live in Chicago, where she can shop in a little deli for food and never know her neighbors. But her mother pre-empts Jamie's dream of leaving by going to New York to study art. Arthur, Jamie's father, is a major source of irritation, with his oft-repeated tales of being a volunteer fireman and his refusal to discuss the painful reality of his wife's departure. Jamie considers him a pain, until she discovers he will let her make her own decision about going to New York to live with her mother. The decision raises many new questions for Jamie, questions about change, about families, and about which parent she actually resembles. The matter is resolved on ""Fish Friday,"" the night of Sensaby's midsummer fish fry, and it is Inky, Jamie's younger brother, who is the catalyst. Inky, an eccentric kid, worries about things--like how worms feel when they're about to become bait. On Fish Friday his attempt to prove he isn't weird causes a near-disaster, and it alters Jamie's viewpoint on her life at the same time. The novel has many layers and many memorable characters, down to Pearl, the waitress at the Stop 'n Snack, who dispenses broad-minded axioms like band-aids. Although at the outset Arthur seems a caricature, we soon realize we are seeing him only through Jamie's eyes. As she gains full vision, Arthur as a father and as a man becomes totally convincing. The portrait of a family scarred but still strong creates a lasting impression.