Humorous, breezy and gay family story with a 16-year old as the central figure in the story. There's no mother for this family of four, and the father goes off to Hawaii shortly before Pearl Harbor. Hary Fred has more initiative than her 19-year old married sister, whose husband is a lieutenant overseas, and who has her hands full with a new baby. So it is Mary Fred who runs things for 13-year old Beany and 15 year old Johnny, who wants to be a writer like his father. The Melones let the maid go when their father leaves, and divide her wages so as to keep the horse Mary Fred had bought and to pay for the accident Johnny had with the car. They find time to entertain homesick soldiers and the neighbors' children and attend to personal projects on the side. Then their step-grandmother descends upon them, and proves a generous person but a suave dictator, with only Mary Fred able to stand up against the temptations she provides. The book ends with a still further enlarged household, but with Dad home safely, and Nonna's leavetaking. Well-written, in a style that suggests a touch of Kathleen Norris.