This entertaining novel, the second by the South African writer to be published here (The Thorn Trees--1967) starts on the run, ends on the fly. Using the farce form to decorate a langorous adolescence, the author follows the wavering progress of an amiable seventeen-year-old boy and the vagaries of adults who seem to skim the ground like dust devils. Stevie Finley, posturing with extravagant lust for Unica, sourly unreceptive and previously promised to a medical student, finds himself about to marry Unica after his ardor has cooled. The Finley family cavort throughout Stevie's crescendos and diminuendoes: a father absorbed in the quest of an athletic youth; a laconic but loving mother; six-year-old Monster and an ageless Grannie, the Monster's cohort in jumping across the roofs of parked cars. Always tagging along is Helen, Unica's simple-minded but tender-hearted sister, whose adoration of Stevie is as oppressive as a summer storm. Grannie, a ""bad fairy,"" saves the day and Stevie and Helen go off in Grannie's ""bubble car."" Like colliding balloons, the characters seem to float across each other's paths, the dialogue spits and pops, and the whole amusement has a breezy grace.