Cat, 15, is a hurt child disguised as a shoplifting, promiscuous runaway when her social worker gives her one last chance at a foster home with Annie, a middle-aged beekeeper. If she can't make it here, the next stop will be detention. Cat is hard to like: compulsively rude, poured into provocative clothing and masked by make-up, she immediately makes plans to get back to the street. But Annie, though her lectures on bees are a bore, gives her space, while Cat feels affection for Annie's old dog, Peaches, and is intrigued by Annie's friend Hooter, 17, who is more interested in being friends than in being seduced--a novelty to Cat, whose hunger for love has been unappeased by her dreary one-night stands. She delays her departure long enough to form some tentative bonds, then splits--to discover that her old haunts are a threat, not a refuge, and that even her feckless mother won't take her in. Her return to Annie is no joyful panacea, but Cat is prepared at last to try to make it work. This has all the elements of a case study, yet Calvert's sturdy characterizations and insightful observations make Cat's story much more. Skillfully, she reveals Cat's inner strength and why she is as she first appears, at the same time making believable her initial resistance and eventual response to a wholesome environment where she'll be able to seek her real, good self. A ""problem novel"" with depth and appeal.