Growing up not only absurd but awkwardly unachieving in an all too Jewishly homogenized community on Long Island--surely you've been there before and while this is a step forward from Gross' first, very young novel (Bubble's Shadow, 1970--written at an early age), it still doesn't amount to overly much. The first part, a little reminiscent of Bubble in its collage of dirty words, features Dan Bergson, very smart, really gifted, and his jock friend Robby Buckler who is so much more successful where it counts--with girls. Actually the only time Danny gets near Cindy, the girl everyone wants to get near to, is when they collaborate on a paper on Nietzsche. On in the second part--with a distinct change of tone--to Danny's later meeting with Robby and Cindy, now dentist-to-be Rob's fiancee, Danny being overtly successful writing soaps but knowing all the time what he's forfeited--everything except the hope of making something of himself sometime. Here and there you may feel sorry for Danny--still wiping the egg cream off his face--but not much more although Gross has a certain articulate facility even if snatches of experience do not a novel make.