Jeremy, 10, and his mother escape from her boyfriend, George Hayes--who has abused her--and seek refuge with George's parents. But Jeremy's secret problem runs deeper: he loves George as a good friend and surrogate father, and hates the times when George molested him sexually. At the older Hayes' home, he finds a warm, concerned welcome and a school with an unusually fine teacher, Mr. Williams. When bullies threaten Jeremy, Jeremy menaces them with a knife George gave him, more important to him as a talisman of safety than as a weapon. The principal confiscates the knife; Jeremy replaces it with a written account--without names--of George's abuse. On Halloween, this falls into the hands of the bullies, with near-tragic consequences: Mr. Williams is assumed to be the culprit, and is suspended from his job--until Jeremy realizes that he can no longer protect George. Talbert (Toby, Thin Ice) makes his characters individual and likable; he handles the situation with perception and delicacy, while making it perfectly clear what has happened to Jeremy and at what emotional cost. In fact, the situation is somewhat more authentic than the characters: Mr. Willims is almost too perfect, and George's parents have no qualities related to their son's behavior. But Jeremy's plight and its resolution will hold readers while conveying a valuable message.