This is one of those modern, ""realistic"" one-problem stories, from the viewpoint of a child who can't help being involved with his mother's love life. When Leffe first moves in with nine-year-old Magnus and his Mom, Magnus sometimes resents the embarrassing hugging and the unsubtle maneuvers to set him up with TV so they can sneak off to the bedroom, but all in all it's good to have someone to talk to after school and to cook dinner while Mom works at the beauty parlor. Besides, it gives Magnus some status when tough Kenneth at school discovers that Leffe has done time -- having been shot in the leg by a policeman while robbing a bank. But then Leffe goes back to his old drinking habit, steals the silver to buy booze, disappears for days and weeks while Magnus and Mom worry and wait by the phone, and makes a mess of the apartment while he is there. You'd think Mom would have had enough, but even after Leffe lands back in prison for robbing a camera store she's there promising to wait, and Magnus, who has sort of become the adult while she has crumpled, can only try to console her. The helplessness of children caught in the midst of such domestic troubles is a fact of life; whether that alone, however honestly handled, makes for satisfying fiction is another question.