Deeply disturbed by her father's death, Grace is in a mental hospital after attempting suicide. In the movingly tentative, oddly literary style of a reclusive, well-read teenager, she explains that she suffers from hallucinations, while stressful conversations become obliterated by ""static"" or leave her ""scrambled."" Torn between her Dad's active creativity and her mother's tendency to withdraw or control, she can't find her own balance--especially on trips outside. Their ugly apartment complex is infested with ""Surly People"" whose loud music destroys sleep (""my dad could take trash or scraps and turn them into something lovely. The Surly People. . .take whatsoever is lovely and defile it"") and whose cruel molestation at school sends Grace back to the hospital. There, she meets Luke, awaiting trial for murder--he has ""pulled the plug"" on a friend left in a permanent vegetative state by an accident. At first, Luke seems like the worst sort of surly; but beneath the crude, raging facade of a boy who has never had a home, Grace finds intelligence and a profound inner morality. In a tautly written denouement, she helps him escape, then talks him into coming back to confront his problems--as she is finally confronting hers. Bennett, who works with mentally handicapped teen-agers, writes with sensitivity and compassion; even minor characters are well rounded in an outstanding debut for Bennett as a YA novelist.