Grim, sick melodramatics. Twelve-year-old Jason and his baby brother Chad are abandoned by their psychotic mother after she's jabbed a lighted cigarette in Chad's diaper rash, tried to kill Jason, and threatened him with institutionalization if he ever turns against her. Hiding out in the filthy, near-foodless apartment, he sees and makes contact with Brant, a boy his age who has everything Jason has never had--a warm home and loving parents--but pities himself because kids make fun of his squinty eye. (Reproached by Jason, Brad will shape up.) When the landlord comes, Jason flees with Chad to Brant's convenient tree house. But he also has to meet Brant's parents, who have every reason to be suspicious and can't help but be solicitous. Jason, convinced that his mother has ""cast a spell on me"" (especially after he gets impatient with Chad, and hurts him), rejects their desire to adopt him, along with Chad. (Lots of erratic behavior ensues.) But a visit to the ""state insane asylum""--to see his mother huddled, moaning, against the wall of a padded cell--convinces him that she's to be pitied, not feared. A ghastly item from almost any point of view.