Walt Broughton suddenly drops out of college and loses contact with friends and family (except for a few enigmatic postcards). His frantic parents hire a private investigator, but his worshipful sister Christine figures he just needs to get his head together after a disastrous senior year, in which he weathered a drug investigation, broke up with his girlfriend Kelly, and--despite star status and a scholarship offer--quit football because of injuries. In fact, those injuries led him into drug addiction, though he managed to conceal it from everyone except Kelly. She tells Christine, who stubbornly keeps silent; but when the investigator finds Walt in a halfway house several states away, the story comes out. Christine's feelings of shock and betrayal are compounded by remorse: Pranks she has played on Kelly and several teachers for fancied offenses seem vicious in retrospect, and undeserved. Realizing that Walt needs to rebuild his life without family pressure, Christine and her parents leave him be, but they begin to attend AA and NA meetings in an effort to understand what has happened to him. This thoughtful look at addiction takes has a didactic air near the end--but there's plenty of information here, plus a thematic blend that includes some contrasting responses to Walt's sudden personality change, the particular family dynamics that contribute to the events, and Christine's maturing as a result of her own experiences.