Sixteen and sensitive, Sandra Campbell is a questing adolescent, all at sea because her brilliant father and artistic mother lead an unorthodox family life aboard a converted Chinese junk. Practical Josie, her younger sister, offers anchorage to Sandra during the unsettled period when Jay Stagliano takes an interest in Sandra. Compared to Jay's socially impeccable family, the haphazard existence of the Campbells aboard the houseboat Pakhoi seems cause for embarrassment. Sensing her uneasiness, Jay helps her toward a more mature evaluation of her gifted parents when he divulges the weaknesses concealed behind his family's de rigeur facade. Janet Lambert, author of the popular Tippy Parrish, Penny Parrish and Jordan family series for adolescents, presents a realistic problem common to teen-agers and solves it very tidily if unrealistically. The problem is true-to-life; the solution is not. This is a shallow ""Seventeen"" with a Hollywood happy ending.