This series of emotional explosions and tense withdrawals begins a few days after the death of Gillian Sheldon's father and ends less than a year later with a prospective stepfather on the doorstep. Her mother, Mimsy, is child-like (and, at times, downright childish); she is petite, unrealistic, and unable to cope with her new life. However Gillian, a seventeen year old tower of strength, attempts to run the show and mother, until she collapses -- the result of emotional strain plus pneumonia. There's a cast of extremes: Kitty, the selfish snob, an intriguer of medician proportions; Anne, a victim of loneliness who engages in minor theft; Paul, a quietly logical Harvard brain who acts as Gillian's wise adviser; Ritchie, a handsome lad out to get whatever will aid Ritchie; Lee, a self-sacrificing, happy, loyal friend, etc. It's an unrealistic ""study"" of delicate relationships. There's a great deal of boy-girl, girl-boy mix-ups, and an unusual amount of hand-holding and hugging among the girls that seem more like 6th grade than high school.