This book is a piece of good second-rate fiction; it is a work of serious intent but insufficient talent. Many people will read it with enjoyment and perhaps even feel elevated by it, but by highest standards there are too many causes for complaint. It is the story of the growing social and sexual awareness of a group of school children in a seaside village in Wales during the last war. At the beginning they are fifteen; by the end they are seventeen or more, and most of the boys are going off to war. Bernard ""Jam"" Smith, who is the narrator and principal character, has two important relationships in the book, one with his schoolfriend Jones, who, by becoming a pacifist, forces Bernard to think about a moral problem which directly affects him, and the other with the girl Kathy. Although Bernard loves her, he spends most of the two years avoiding her, because he is afraid of the involvements and responsibilities of loving her --or anyone. To the author's credit, be treats their love without sentimentality. But his characters are far too fragilely built, and his language doesn't suit the teenage thoughts and uncertainities of his narrator -- too often he sounds like a handbook for teenagers on ""growing-up"".