An angry teenager escapes his dead father's shadow in this overwritten but promising first novel. Raised on stories of his father's heroic achievements in school, football, and Vietnam, Kenny has grown into a self-disparaging ne'er-do-well given to reckless behavior and macho posturing. Three of his father's old service buddies--Kenny thinks of them as his uncles--wangle him a transfer to the same prep school his dad attended. Despite occasional mishaps and ill-timed bursts of temper, Kenny's effort to mend his ways pays off, both in better grades and a better self-image; after a devastating tornado hits town, Kenny displays the stuff he's made of. When his uncles apologetically reveal that his father was not really a shining hero, but a man so overwhelmed by fear that he took his own life in the war, Kenny's inner skies clear rather suddenly with the knowledge; his habit of describing feelings at least as often as he displays them mark Lester as a journeyman storyteller. Still, characters get further on brains than brawn in this book, and there's nothing predictable about Kenny's brand of cool.