Fourteen stories, some of which were published in obscure literary mags, make up this grab-bag debut collection. Six pieces set in Chicago are told from a young girl's point of view, with a few of them re-creating her breathless syntax and loose sense of punctuation. Rachel and Miriam, Loeb's alternating fictional protagonists, indulge in much commonplace behavior. In the title story, Rachel joins her friends in their petty cruelty to an unusual girl who also happens to be the best jump-roper around. In ``Madame Alexander,'' Rachel's expensive doll collection drives a wedge between her parents and upsets her jealous best friend. ``Birthday Girl'' wanders over a history of youthful parties, and leads into her parents' divorce. At 15, in ``The Sadie Hawkins Day Dance,'' Rachel befriends an unpopular fat girl, who proves to be quite sexually active, much to Rachel's disgust. The joys and sorrows of a Jewish family gathering provide the texture of ``Family Meetings.'' And Miriam, in her 20s, relives her tortured teenage years through the troubled sister of her boyfriend (``The Koquettes''). As an adult, Rachel lives in Florida, where she and her husband entertain and console a group of local bachelors (``The Bachelors''); and, on two occasions (``The World Traveller'' and ``Safe Passage''), she endures the visits of her mother, whose physical decline results in much guilt. Rachel complains while sorting out her mother's things back in Chicago (``Uncertain Geographers''), while Miriam whines her way through a visit to New York City (``Going Under'') and a one-night stand in San Francisco (``Henry's Africa''). Two uncharacteristic stories are really the most interesting--a meditation on alligators (``Fauna in Florida''), and a tale of one man's obsession with Hawaiian shirts (``Hawaiian Dukes''). Familiar stuff about growing up: competently crafted, but very much a first book.