Laura Fine's first months in a seventh grade in Queens are a confusing time of sorting out her relationship to her peers and her loving family, who run a kosher restaurant in Manhattan. Her chief preoccupation is Raymond, a would-be football star who barely notices her, but the story centers on daily interactions with classmates representing a variety of cultures and approaches to life. In the final chapters, a boy with AIDS forces all of them to confront their different supersititions about the disease, and Laura in particular to put her other concerns into perspective. Uneven and episodic, with little focus other than the fear of AIDS. But Laura's first-person, present-tense narration is truly felt, and she does grow into an interesting, stronger character by the close.