Aldo Rossi's best friend DeDe Rawson lives through the first, dismal year A.D.--After Divorce--in another of Horowitz's acute soundings of New Jersey suburbia. The book opens with Mom's terror at a mysterious 2 A.M. ""honking""--that turns out to be the smoke-detector battery running down, as DeDe reminds her Dad had explained. They are, for now, bereft: the car is laid up more than it runs; Mrs. Rawson works erratic hours at a low-paying job; she's putting on weight--while DeDe's father, in an impeccable Manhattan apartment, ""never looked betters"" DeDe enjoys her alternate weekends with him, despite his troubling fixation on ""perfection""--and she has to face his increasing busyness, traveling, cancellations and postponements: all signs of disengagement that Horowitz lets readers interpret for themselves. DeDe, who's neither an agonizer nor a girl-wonder, does make stabs at brightening her mother's drab existence--by getting her to join Mrs. Rossi's Vegetable Club (co-op purchases, vegetables-for-breakfast, not much socializing) and, all-too-familiarly, by trying to pair her up with the school's one unmarried teacher. But it's the first Thanksgiving dinner A.D.--just the two of them, in a restaurant--that's a benchmark. DeDe, unhappy and unpleasant, overhears the nearby ""perfect family"" squabble; to her apology, her mother candidly replies, ""It's not your fault you're part of a modern statistic."" The air cleared, they head home with tidbits for dog Cookie, ""part of our family."" Only the title suggests that it might be up to a kid to ""take charge""; actually, DeDe's mother gets a grip on her situation and discovers resources of her own. As sustaining a treatment of the problem as there is at this level--home-grown domestic comedy without sitcom gags or soap operatics.