Ace, 15, has been crippled from polio since early childhood, and he bitterly resents whatever reactions to his handicap he encounters. His resentment of his parents' tense, blustery insistence that he is ""normal"" and ""mainstream"" is complicated by guilt and gratitude, so he goes along with their pretenses. Then he flies to Chicago--alone!--to visit relatives, and while there insists on going to an amusement park with his cousin BC and a girl their age. He's determined to ride the terrifying roller coaster, and does--but can't get off fast enough and so endures two extra rides before attendants show up, humiliatingly, to lift him out. Somehow, however, this experience--plus the allegedly natural treatment he gets from his hosts--proves a breakthrough, after which he can accept his limitations and, on returning home, confront his parents. Ace's parents' bluff is meant to be hollow but, alas, the rest rings just as false. Ace's childish, hung-up thoughts and brittle mental rejoinders, as well as the conversations among the teenagers (""Hi, cous!""), are obtuse, corny, stereotyped, and unbelievable.