Both of Damyan's worlds are in Kiev, and this, like the author's Aunt America (1963), is one of the few juvenile novels available set in the present day Soviet Union. Damyan's life offers a clearcut example of what the conflict between freedom and submission, between the traditions within the home and their denial outside, can mean in personal terms. The boy lived with his grandmother, who, like many of their neighbors, was loyal to her old customs, religion, and belief in independence--a way of life which was ignored publicly. Swimming was Damyan's major interest and talent. The chance to take lessons at a pool introduced him to the advantages that could be gained by being politically active. At the same time, his friendship with a boy whose family lived in comparative luxury made him eager for the material gains Party ties could provide. The process by which Damyan comes to recognize how his own integrity can be maintained within the confines of normal Soviet society is well handled within the closely defined setting.