A story as timely as today's headlines. Alexandra, 15, is infatuated with handsome Cliff, nearly 18, and a hunk. No one--especially not Alex--can figure out why he singled her out to be his steady, but he did, and is beginning to smother Alex with his demands for her complete attention to his every need and wish. Alex interprets his increasingly unreasonable behavior as a sign of how much he really loves her, even when his unprovoked bouts of anger and jealousy translate into verbal abuse and random acts of violence against her. Alex forgives and tries to forget, believing Cliffs vows never to repeat his slaps or insults. One night, Cliff takes out his anger over a family problem on Alex, beating her brutally and then raping her. This time Alex knows she must get rid of him, although she almost gives in again. Alex really is a stupid twit, but the way she rationalizes Cliffs actions is very realistic; Miklowitz (Standing Tall, Looking Good, 1991, etc.), writing more about abusive relationships than an instance of date rape, pulls no punches about the psychology involved. The book wallows in preachiness; that may be for the best, since subtleties are often lost on victims of abuse. Good intentions; minor flaws.