On the face of it, Life is a Lonely Place is an affirmation of open-mindedness and a vindication of poor Tink who twice becomes the victim of small town gossip -- first because he dates a girl who is not only ""a few pounds overweight"" but reputed to ""go as far as you want to take her,"" and later when a punk classmate spreads rumors that there is something kinky about his friendship with an ""older"" man (27 and an author of young adult books to boot!). Tink is instantly recognizable the younger son who collects beach glass and his father's displeasure while brother Lowell wins hockey trophies, and his sufferings are recorded here in an affectedly informal monologue that at least makes him believably immature and klutzy at times. The older man, David Hastings, is idealized by Tink, Buddhist chanting and all, and apparently the reader is supposed to admire him too though his carefully considered words of wisdom don't leave much of an impression one way or another. Fortunately we are spared a curtains down tragedy as Tink enlists brother Lowell to convince Dad just in time that he is really straight, but when the conclusion obligates both Tink's friends to prove themselves -- the girl by slimming down and acting just about ""frigid,"" Hastings by producing a hitherto unmentioned wife -- we wonder whether the reader hasn't been feeding off the same voyeuristic impulses that motivated Tink's enemies. Despite whispers of once forbidden subjects, a very conventional adolescent misunderstanding that vindicates Tink at the expense of anyone who might really be in some way different.