Overweight, awkward and shy, Marcus Rosenbloom cuts a cool, heroic figure in his fantasies where he is given courage by the example of the father he has never known but variously imagines as a spy, a military hero and a benevolent ""dollar man."" Meanwhile Marcus' efforts to change his image by dieting become futile, self-inflicted torture and a plan to make himself more dashing by wearing a plumed black hat falls flat. But when he is framed on a charge of smoking pot in school and reluctantly, but with dignity, takes the rap for his guilty ""friends"" the incident turns out -- as Vivian, an older teenager who has a crush on this 5' 11"" fourteen year-old, predicts -- to be ""the best thing that ever happened to you."" Indeed it gives Marcus the courage to seek out the father who doesn't know he exists and -- when Dad proves to be a self-centered, money preoccupied businessman who tries to buy off this inconveniently appearing son with a watch and a twenty dollar bill -- his shattered hopes leave him able for the first time to appreciate his mother's cheerful independence and his own character -- less than dashing perhaps, but more than a laughing stock or pawn. Not incidentally, this is an outstandingly empathetic and realistic study of the psychology of a food addict and, moreover, a sensitive interior view -- undistorted by the self-discounting sarcasm that has become a narrative cliche -- of the kind of kid who is usually shoved into the background . . . but who in this case deserves the front and center attention Mazer accords him. A rare combination -- uncompromising yet ever so easy to connect with.