The piney woods of Florida, filled with the dark mystery of cypress swamps and the strange silent noises of rattlers and 'gators slithering through the underbrush, form both the exotic setting and the prime adversary in this story of a young boy's struggle to overcome his fears and achieve some degree of manhood. Suspicious and afraid of his environment, Andy's troubles are heightened by the ridicule of his rough and ready father and brothers. He becomes determined to stave off the evils around him, both real and imaginary. With his faithful pooch, Andy is victorious in a battle with an alligator and a rattler, his confidence further bolstered by the friendship of some neighbors. Having learned to use a gun, he finally wins the male members of his family as well as his own self respect. Readers will be rooting for Andy from beginning to end despite the clear lines of empathy drawn by the plot. Those who identify will find the conclusion most satisfying. Local color and adventure compensate for any lack of depth.