A vehement, anguished, but for all of that dull projection of an adolescent, which mirrors not only the ""immense and turbulent"" confusion of Earle Borden, seventeen and very out of sorts, but parallels his story with that of the Baldridges- once the richest family in New Boston, Kansas. For while Earle moves in a private world of anger and raw hate, disliked by his friends and his sisters, he is attracted to the old Baldridge place- now in ruins. And the story goes back in time to David Baldridge, who had married once- vindictively and ambitiously- and had acquired the material success to marry a second time, the bold Laura Harcourt who shortly earned the ostracism of the town. And it is George, their son, who pays the price and inherits a lonely life of isolation with the mother to whom he is bound in duty rather than love. The past joins the present, but whereas for George there's only the progressive deterioration of mind and body which ends in suicide, for Earle there's a redirection of his alien adolescence as he proves his heroism to himself (he burns his hand deliberately by setting off a pack of matches) and to others in a public protest... A more than explicit examination of brooding, festering lives which give off a general malaise within the confines of a midwestern community. Local and anesthetic.