Charles Goldberg has a lot going for him--yet he feels like a loser. He's talented enough to attend a special high school, but he sees himself as fat, socially inept, undirected, and with no hope of getting a girlfriend. To top things off, his grandmother, who has Alzheimer's Disease, has moved in. As her behavior grows increasingly bizarre, Charles tries to cope with his low self-esteem and to help his father with the agonizing question of his grandmother. Before they place her in a nursing home, though, she dies. Despite his father's extreme reaction, Charles thinks things are looking up. He goes off to college, falls in love for the first time--and then his father dies. But by then Charles truly has matured: he is able to cope with the death and to help his family as well. The underlying theme of death in this powerful but occasionally uneven story is woven deftly into Charles' story without weighing it down. However, three pages from the end, when it's revealed that Dr. Goldberg had given his mother an overdose of sleeping pills, the moral question of euthanasia is glossed over, lessening the impact of the startling revelation. Still, the strength here is in the intriguing, skillfully drawn characters--a most appealing one being the housekeeper, pivotal to Charles' emotional growth. A moving, humorous, and triumphant story of a boy surviving adolescence.