Brooklynite Tybee Trimble's brush with ""hard times"" is a trifle cutesy, like her name, and occasionally overdrawn: what she makes into a crisis is being unable to go to the circus, to write her chosen essay on circus elephants. But Perl does give this sit-corn foul-up some real-life detailing--to earn ticket money, Tybee cleans the windshields of parked cars, just before their meters run out--and the larger point is well and truly taken: not to be ashamed of family sacrifices. Tybee's parents are young, apparently--""just kids"" to their parents. Her law-clerk father takes a leave to study up for the bar exam. Through Tybee (a bit of contrivance involving a parked car), her library-clerk mother gets far more lucrative work at which she's talented--painting ceiling decorations in private houses--but which strikes Tybee as unseemly, ""un-motherly."" She also resents what her parents do with what money they have: a family burger-place dinner costs more than a circus ticket. Her father has confronted her with her feelings (""Everybody's different. You just don't happen to know in what ways""); but it takes a head-injury to her mother, discovery that her mother has lost a baby, and a mother-and-baby encounter on a circus-bound subway (she's emptied her piggy bank) to turn Tybee around, literally and figuratively. Light 1980s entertainment--that does deal squarely with serious 1980 issues.