The author of The World Around Midnight (1991), etc., earnestly chronicles the trials of a well-meaning liberal mother who has an out-of-control adolescent daughter. Rosemary Kenny lives in downtown D.C. with 16-year-old Shelly, whose father long since suffered a breakdown and retreated to Texas. When Shelly brings home Dee, a handsome, gold-chain-sporting rapper, Rosemary worries that his red sweatsuit means that he's in a gang. But then the young man moves in when his grandmother loses her apartment, and he disproves Rosemary's fears by starting diligently to look for work. Meanwhile, Rosemary has only a tenuous hold on her own job at a p.r. firm, a company perfectly typified by the piranhas the managing director keeps in a tank in his office. The company has just won the account of a violence-torn Caribbean nation, and Rosemary goes about organizing an art show of an island painter. One night, while patrolling with her Neighborhood Watch group, she gets knocked down by Viktor, a Czech journalist chasing a robber. Viktor later sends flowers and seems romantically interested--a terrifying prospect for Rosemary, who hasn't dated in years. Then Dee is arrested for murder. Shooting erupts at Rosemary's art opening. And Viktor persists, offering both sex and solace. The catastrophes, however, only multiply: Rosemary is fired, while Dee is exonerated but falls into smuggling guns. Finally, Rosemary kicks him out, Shelly follows after, and Viktor gets an irresistible job offer in Prague. Although Rosemary's grit and humor are offered up as ballast, and there are hints that she's wise about choosing her battles, there's also something enervating about her response to disaster: She keeps her pain secret, snipes at Shelly, and crawls into bed with a newspaper. While beleaguered mothers of teens may experience multiple twinges of recognition, this litany of urban and parenting tribulations--without the benefit of a compelling protagonist--is more exhausting than moving.