A powerful, beautifully written novel that explores such issues as small-town prejudice, pacifism, and nuclear waste dumping, as well as teen friendship, love, disillusionment, and despair. Kate, 16, and her family are glad to return to rural River View, Mass., after four years in Providence, R.I. Kate reestablishes her close friendship with her best childhood pal and soon-to-be-first-love. Jon, and discovers that her former classmates have become attractive teens. Kate also finds herself in the middle of an undeclared war at school between the well-to-do River View kids and the supposedly ""tough"" kids from Hastings Bay, a working-class town across the river. This traditional emnity, shared by adults and teens, is augmented when it's discovered that one of the towns will be chosen as a nuclear waste site. Kate defies convention, befriending Pippa, a Hastings girl. She also appoints herself peacemaker, and with Pippa's and Jon's help throws mixed parties and conducts summit talks with the male teen ringleaders of both factions, remaining obsessed with her mission even after older brother, Dan, is beaten up by Hastings boys. Kate's successes at peacemaking are shattered when Pippa is almost raped by Rab, a River View bully. This incident also destroys an attempt by Kate's father to convince both towns to stand together to try and keep the waste site out. It's only after Jon is killed during a final, desperate teen summit called by Kate that both towns begin to understand the importance of promoting peace and unity. Garden has presented likable characters caught in a microcosm of the tragic ""them/us"" situations taking place in the world. Readers will see clearly how such situations develop and will be inspired to think about possible solutions.