When Alex reports that his friend Eddie is missing on a mountain near Albuquerque, even the police pay little attention. Following 12 happy years with his grandparents, Alex (15) has recently moved into a trailer with his mother, a cocktail waitress with dreams of being a dancer. After Eddie, best friend and neighbor, is struck by his stepfather Paco, the boys skip school to pan for gold. Impulsively, Eddie hides; threatening weather forces Alex to leave without him, hoping to find him at home. When Eddie doesn't return, Alex seeks help, only to be suspected of helping Eddie run away or even killing him. Because Eddie is Mexican, Alex also meets outright prejudice among the adults he needs to depend on, including a school counselor and his own mother. Frustrated and troubled, Alex is encouraged by feisty Candelario, disabled by a bone disease, and by an unexpected new ally, Gwen. Finally, the grieving Alex takes a gun Eddie stole from Paco and returns to the mountain to hold a private service for Eddie and perhaps end his own life; consoled by a poem Gwen has offered (""Nothing Gold Can Stay"") and inspired by the life-affirming (though doomed) Candelario, he throws away the gun--and finally discovers Eddie's body under a rock slide. Skillfully integrating important issues into a narrative propelled by dramatic incidents, Mazzio sketches several believable characters but focuses on Alex, a lonely boy forced to make tough decisions. Well-crafted suspense.