The child who helps save the family fortunes by dint of hard work is a stock character, satisfying a normal fantasy; here, the fantasy is debunked, and the resulting conclusion is not only unrealistic but unsatisfying. Nikki and her friends have spent the summer toiling on the Mississippi riverboat that their parents have converted into a hotel; finances are so precarious that the regular help has been fired and the kids are required to do their work. Nikki has taken responsibility since she was little; her mother was ill (with a mysterious disease that allowed her to work), was cured by a recent operation, and has had follow-up counseling. Now Nikki pitches in, competent if not always willing; she even helps devise a raffle and trains for a race, hoping for prize money. After her Mom is disabled again in an accident, she tries to take on her work, too. Finally, after Dad has vetoed a job that Nikki saw as a way to take the pressure off and give her some rest, she complains--only to be told that she's too bossy: helping out doesn't give her the right to make decisions for others. They do work it out (not very plausibly); but Nikki, who never seems to have had a choice, has learned a lesson the author doesn't seem to recognize: a person trapped into responsibility can't expect much sympathy from the people she's been helping when she finally tries to negotiate a change.