Knudson's self-consciously muscle-bound prose can be off-putting but it does make one aware of how seldom other ""girls"" books even approach this energy level. Here Crash Adams, more like the athletic Zanballer than the semi-fantastic heroine of Jesus Song, is part of an all-gift canoeing expedition in the Everglades, and her assertive delight in roughing it is exceeded only by that of her close pal Rollie who overdoes the tough guy pose by bullying the weakling, poetry-addicted June. Rollie and June are gross stereotypes of the gift jock and bookworm respectively, but the steamroller dialogue -- and the unexpected arrival of Hurricane Aretha -- leave no time for their refinement. The trip is first cut short by torrential rain, and just when the girls have apparently reached the safety of a ranger station, Rollie suggests one last race and then abandons the drowning June, leaving Crash behind to save her. Immediately after June's rescue, Aretha hits with full force leaving June and Crash to face the worst of the storm alone and helpless, and allowing June to prove -- in a surprisingly conventional turn -- that her bookish interest in maps and, yes, the proper first aid for snake bites can be as useful as a strong back. Crash's disillusionment with Rollie and newfound admiration for June seems a deflatingly mild conclusion. But then young women can seldom indulge vicariously in such sporting camaraderie or physical challenge as the canoe trip offers -- a rare opportunity even if Knudson nearly swamps the expedition with heavyhanded caricature.