Many have aimed for -- but few have achieved -- a Holden Caulfield and, although this is no Catcher In The Rye, here is an almost worthy competitor. Told by 15 year old Josh, laid in moving picture California, near Los Angeles, it encompasses the time when his mother, practically a has-been in films, is about to make a come-back in TV and, with a string of distasteful affairs behind her, finds in chance acquaintance Ben not only a strong, helpful lover but a man who brings Josh to a sense of not being wet behind the ears and an ability to handle the terrors that develop. For, after a halcyon period of growing security with Ben in which Rita gets off the bottle, makes good in her TV pilot series and plans for the future; in which Josh loses his fears of being a sissy, of his teen-age normal feelings of imbalance and his particular apprehension about his mother's love -- and life; Ben suicides and the resulting scandal reveals that he has a wife who is jealous to a point of vicious retaliation. A first hatred of Ben gives way to gratitude for his hidden legacy but it is only Josh who is immediately saved -- to wait for his mother's release from a mental hospital. The effort to communicate -- in teen age terms -- at its awkwardest, but lucent, downrightness, keeps this from the ostrich set and its total effect is in the fumbling, young-too-old picture of a partly understood world of adults and the totally understood but often unexpected world of contemporaries -- which is at moments affecting.