How resolute, independent Becky Jones becomes an Emancipated Minor after her father is killed in an accident and her mother is confined indefinitely in a mental hospital. At 19, sister Nancy insists on playing the bossy parent to Becky, who turns 16 in the course of the story. Worse, Nancy has always been jealous of Becky's closeness with their father, and so her strictness now has a touch of malice mixed in with the overdeveloped sense of duty. As friction develops between the two, Becky demonstrates her solid good sense by holding her boyfriend firmly at arm's length and by holding down a coffee-shop job. It's her kind elderly boss at the coffee shop who tells her about the legal status that will get her out from under Nancy's thumb. (Later he will rent her an apartment in his house.) Meanwhile Nancy has become engaged to the nice young lawyer who is handling their claim for compensation for their father's accident. When Becky's petition for emancipated status comes to court, Nancy, who opposes it, blows up uncharacteristically--and thus unconvincingly--and so the judge realizes that Becky will be better off on her own. The story is best seen as a fictional how-to-do-it manual for a procedure of some practical interest and considerable wish-fulfillment potential. As a novel it's superstraight, plodding, and one-dimensional.