Harrowing adventure with psychological implications turns to interpersonal sparring in Mr. Southall's third American appearance, with a drop in the suspense that made Ash Road (1966) an excruciating reading experience. But the initial involvement is very strong indeed.... Five fourteen-year-olds, and the younger brother of one of them, set off with various misgivings for a weekend at a remote Australian cattle station. Aloft in a small private plane, they begin to disintegrate physically and psychologically, individually and collectively. Without warning, the pilot is struck dead by a heart attack. Gerald, the host, has a smattering of knowledge of flying. For seven hours, alternately tense and self-contained, he keeps the plane aloft, unable to locate his position, unable to land--until ""they seemed to have been...imprisoned for days, waiting to die."" At last...a break in the clouds...an unknown beach...and they are down in the surf. How to survive, whether to attempt a return or await rescue, involves them in immobilizing disagreement and furthers their individual development, for better and worse. The conclusion-- surprising in a juvenile--is a standoff: no hope of rescue, a slight hope of survival. Some small silliness--one girl is an eighth aborigine, puts her ear to the ground to hear ancestral murmurings--weakens the story, and the rather adult entanglement of the characters limits its appeal, but their airborne experience is shattering to share.