Sixth-grader Eddie Zitelli desperately hopes to survive the end of school with grades and self-esteem intact, but sheer absent-mindedness lands him in the principal's office. Life at home isn't much better, especially after Pop, his ailing grandfather, moves in to share his room. Over the summer, Eddie realizes that Pop plans to gamble both his health and his life savings on an illegal horse race so that he can move back home to live alone again. When Pop leaves to place his bet, Eddie must decide what to do; and though Pop's victory proves fatal, Eddie knows that he's made the right decision and that, through Pop's quest for autonomy, he himself has also become more autonomous. The issues raised by some of Eddie's decision-making (e.g., not telling his parents about a crucial phone call from Pop) merit more thoughtful exploration than they get here; and until the narrative focuses on Eddie and Pop, the characters and plot feel manufactured, while the writing's burdened with forced similes. Still, Stevens does convey the struggle for self in both young and old. Acceptable additional fare.