More confessional than chronicle, this first volume of the noted expatriate writer's autobiography candidly records the responses of an intense sensibility to a growing self. Writing ``to rediscover the driving force which dominated my life,'' Green (Paris, 1991, etc.) examines his first 16 years-- which from the onslaught of adolescence were to be dominated by the tension between his emerging homosexuality and his deeply felt religious convictions. Born in 1900, Green was the youngest child of an American family living in Paris. Their home--though they moved through a series of lodgings whose varying quality reflected changing family fortunes--was an oasis of southern American culture and sentiment, with the South's defeat in the Civil War a persistent source of family identity. Green's earliest memories are of himself as a dreamy child who enjoyed reading and drawing, and whose great happiness was mixed with vivid fears prompted by an overly sensitive imagination that conjured up a world populated as much by lurking demons as by benevolent angels. Green's mother, a religious woman of strong emotions whom the author thinks loved him too much, impressed on the boy the need to be ``pure''--an admonition that, as Green entered adolescence, created intense moral dilemmas, pitting his sexual innocence against his attraction to other boys. This parent died in 1914, during the early days of WW I, an event that created a ``dreadful solitude'' in Green's life and probably accelerated his conversion to Roman Catholicism at age 16. The volume ends as the author, 17, prepares to become an ambulance driver at the front because his father says that it's ``time to think of doing something for the common cause.'' Though perhaps Green examines his life too strenuously, his honesty and palpable faith make this a moving account of what he calls ``God's progression in the human heart.''