College sophomore Nina must have been waiting for someone to love, for after one ""Hi"" from Mitch, who's painting the house next door, she makes a point of running into him in the sandwich shop, where he, just as eager, asks her out. On their first date they are ""nearly in love already,"" as Mitch declares, and soon Nina is moving out of the apartment she shares with two music students and into Mitch's studio. There is some friction from the start, with Mitch, the less mature of the two, a little jealous even of Nina's studying. A professor's son, he has dropped out after two years of college to test himself in ""the real world""; whereas Nina, from a typical Mazer working-class background, is determined to plod her way through to graduation. Still, ""almost at once their routines began to mesh""; and their first party, a Sunday breakfast with her former roommates Lynell and Sonia and their boyfriends, is a giddy feast of pink champagne and Mitch's ""Hawaiian rice"" and laughing banter, neither too clever nor too corny, that Mazer captures perfectly. But Mitch and Lynell are flirting even then, and later, when he is laid off and unhappy, the two conduct a secret affair while Nina is at class and at her job typing for her popular English professor. Their deception comes out when Nina, overcome with guilt, confesses her indiscretion: grieving over her precious cat, killed because of Mitch and Lynell's carelessness, Nina has yielded to her professor's comforting embrace. Now, on a see-saw with Mitch, she blurts ""I did it with Professor Lehman!"" Though Mitch wants them to stay together, things are never the same after that, and when the school year ends Nina packs up. Mazer's talent for projecting young people's realtionships on exactly her characters' and readers' level is both a limitation and an attraction. Here the slow realism of the breakup may pall but Mazer's strongly realized scenes and her ability to get down into Nina's feelings give the account a legitimate strong appeal.