When her father, a high-level state employee, is caught accepting bribes and kickbacks, Erika finds her secure suburban life derailed. She's a hot topic of school gossip, and her family moves in with relatives to avoid intrusive reporters. Her grades plummet, and she can't drum up any enthusiasm for the upcoming tennis championships, even though she's the best player on the team. Worst of all, she's angry at her father; to get even with him, Erika cheats in a tennis game by calling a ball out that is in. The plot is carefully worked out in this competently written first novel, and many characters, particularly Erika's grandmother, stand out as memorable individuals. Erika, though, painted as the average American teenager, comes across as bland; her personality is frequently overwhelmed by the sheer drama of the situation she faces. Nevertheless, Byalick raises provocative questions and provides no easy answers.