Even in high school, Jeff Orloff dreamed of Mary Silver, plastering his walls with photos of her. Her family moved away when she graduated, but now, two years later, Mary is back with a baby, renting a room from Jeff's best friend Danny's mother. So Jeff, just out of high school, hangs around Danny's house, helping Mary with baby Hannah, driving them to the doctor and the dentist, and gradually winning her friendship and the pet name Sir Walter Teddybear--but not the love and sex he wants from her. Jeff projects all this with self-mocking humor and frequent lapses into Mitty-like scenarios cast as film scripts--for Jeff, though resisting family pressure to start college or a career, dreams of being a film director when he is not dreaming of Mary. His campaign builds up to a frazzled but (for readers) flat four-day stint caring for Hannah, while Mary attends the acting workshop he has urged on her. Then, instead of the loving reunion he's envisioned, Mary returns with bubbling plans to join a commune of actors doing street and community theater. For Jeff, her departure is followed by gloom, despair, a car accident, a bout with reality, and at last a move to Los Angeles and a job on the movie lots--""need I add, not as a director,""--as a dishwasher moving up to security guard. This outcome makes sense, and the story is free of the maudlin banality of similar YA novels. Jeff is likable, decent without any moralistic self-consciousness; his sense of humor gives a refreshing edge of awareness to his normal self absorption.