One of the characters in this story sums it up in a brief phrase,- ""sex and unhappiness in the upper surtax bracket"". Granted a market for books that can be so defined -- granted that this is a competent job, meticulously detailed down to the last rape, it still doesn't add up to either praiseworthy or significant publishing. And yet the publishers herald this as one of their big books for Spring... A story of Elaine Chickering, as childhood merges into adolescence, and naive innocence suffers a rude shock of awakening in a heedlessly cruel failure of responsible parenthood; of her school days with full quota of induction into the terrors of perversion, the distaste for boys, the right-about-face of an awkward tomboy becomes a sleek, amorous sub-deb. Her parents' unusually unpleasant divorce, her father's suicide, the revelation of her brother's illegitimacy, her mother's promiscuity, all this provides a background unlikely to develop the best that is in Elaine. Nor are the schools and college atmosphere conducive to balance of a healthy sort. Two or more affaires- no holds barred- a perfunctory marriage, ending with separation and divorce, after a callously recounted scalding to death of their baby, when Elaine was too drunk to know what she was doing -- and the result? Elaine takes stook of her life, and does another complete turn, this time into a path that may ultimately lead her out of the morass....Unpalatable- and worse, for this view of New York and its holiday environs in the 30's and 40's leaves a sense of defeat, frustration, hopelessness, wholly unrelieved. The very fact that it is well-done makes it all the more dangerous, in the wrong hands, where it is likely to end. Certainly a book that few libraries will want. And that is largely metropolitan in its potential market.