The New York Times education editor is one of the co-authors of this both enlightening and disheartening discussion of youth today which is not so much a criticism of its ""greater freedom"" but of the ""abdication of adult authority... for the convenience of the immature"". Parents have defaulted here; so have the schools where there is the dichotomy between ""intellectual postponement"" and the social speed-up which has produced a forced prematurity (dating steady at 12). This in turn has led to premarital pregnancies, now a high school and not a college problem, early marriages, and quick divorce. The Hecbingers survey teen age, ""maturity"" symbols (smoking, drinking, cars); images, from the media (television, rock'n roll, etc.) and the image-makers- Bobby Darin, Fabian, teen age reading, spending, styles, morals, goals (none), and it is a dismaying vista of a culture and certainly had an infancy in the indulgent of permissiveness and self expression. The Hechingers' field work covers a lot of ground, urban and suburban, upper and lower class, and they cite any number of popular clearances, from Margaret Mead and David Riesman to Ann Landers and Robb. Their book is forthright and relevant.