The last years of schooling that so heartbreakingly, exhilaratingly, coincide with a new adulthood are the subject of this ambling, bittersweet novel by a young expatriate Irish writer. As seventeen-year-old Shivaun leaves home for a convent boarding school in Dublin, she has disquieting hints that the ties of childhood are slackening, but it is not until the incredible rigor and regimen of the oppressive school presents another estrangement from the adult world that Shivaun gropes anxiously backwards for the security she has left. Two roommates gaily maverick Maeve, and gentle, innocently devoted Josie-help to perpetuate communion in an apparently loveless institution, but the world outside bulges at the convent door. There is a love ""affair"" with a home village boy, escapades with Maeve, but always palpitating in the background is a home ""grown itself in and away"" from Shivaun; parents revealed in an evolving perspective. The death of Shivaun's father, whom she adored, sounds the final clanging of the gate upon childhood and the paralyzing grief of loss. Miss Glennon rambles through her portraits, pleasures and melancholies as through a daisy field, cropping impulsively, and one wishes for a more strenuous convent discipline of structure at least. But the nery is lovely, the atmosphere fresh and appealing.