Although Cat St. John's unemployed father's behavior is becoming increasingly erratic and bizarre, her mother denies the problem. Knowing her father shouldn't be alone, Cat has withdrawn from most school activities. Her best friend is Cam, the boy next door, though each dates someone else. Mrs. St. John (somewhat unaccountably) dislikes Cam, but he and Cat are destined for a closer relationship, as they are discovering during an idyll at the old family farm on Cat's 16th birthday. Cat has driven them there, with the new license acquired that morning even though her father failed to show up to take her for the test; later, she voiced her legitimate anger to him. On the way home from the farm, Cam and Cat discover Mr. St. John's suicide--leaving his parked car and shoes, he has jumped from a bridge. Stricken by guilt, emotionally abandoned by her repressed mother, Cat survives the trauma with the help of her own courage, Cam, and Aunt Leah, who is not only understanding and sensible but who shares some family history that helps explain Cat's father's illness. Cat is a believable, likable protagonist; although Cam is a bit too good to be tree, the other characters are sharply drawn individuals. Poetic, perceptive (the description of Cat's response to grief is unbearably real), and tautly written--with its immediacy heightened by first-person, present, tense narrative--this is a hard book to put down.