Marian Wright, 13, tells the story of her friendship with Val Boyd, the same age and a fellow classmate at Norton School in New York City, and writes an end to childhood as a result of her exposure to explosive experiences. Val, with her wild spirits, her music, her imagination, and with her different background -- parents who travel widely, analysis with Dr. Braintree -- is color and excitement for Marian, who lives with her divorced mother and divorcee Boothy, in a geographically unacceptable area. Their shared escapades let them ignore the school and enjoy the world with which they have surrounded themselves. Their magnum opus evolves from the crush that Val conceives for pianist Henry Orient, and their research on his life, likes and personality, is kept lively with their secret code and ""bible"". Unfortunately Val's parents return for Christmas and her terribly insecure and rejective mother Isabel finds the ""bible"" and unleashes the last Henry Orient episode which leads Val almost to a breakdown. Marian's loyalty and concern send her to Dr. Braintree, who has given Val refuge, for a showdown, and she is told more than one truth about Val's problems of escape and fixations and learns something about grown ups and growing up. A sensitive first novel, in which the 13 year old level is advanced but convincing, this has a seeing eye, a quick ear and a warm heart for the inner and outer worlds of the young and the life they leave behind.