In a first novel, an adventure story set in Missouri in 1914, a high-spirited girl's emancipated values are challenged by her family. Outraged by her older brother Jack's attitude toward women's suffrage and his belief that females are weaker and should be subservient, Lizzie (15) vows to go the whole summer without his help or anyone's. A series of stock incidents--involving lemon pies with soapy merinque, asurreptititious cigarette, and a burlesque show--land plucky Lizzie and her friend Teddy in ever deeper water with her parents and brothers. But the genuine suspense picks up when Lizzie, put to sleep by a bottle of patent medicine, finds herself on a medicine-show wagon in Kansas and in danger for her life: she and Teddy witnessed a murder while escaping from the burlesque show, and Teddy is mysteriously unwilling to support her account of the crime. Ross' somewhat predictable story is enlivened by Lizzie's sassy narration; and, overall, her pungent use of language and astute selection of local color and historical detail mark a promising debut.