Alex Flynn, 17, tells of the summer spent in ""the Trough"" a long established upper New York State community whose head is Charles Bonham and whose residents are partly permanent, partly vacationers. Kate, Bonham's daughter, comes home for the first time from Europe and Alex gives her his heart while Kate's older brother, Edward, finds in Evelyn the woman he wants for his wife, after she gets her divorce. Through a Fourth of July celebration, through various social events, Alex is Kate's shadow and his 18th birthday is marked by his failure with Kate when she offers herself to him. Her elopement and Bonham's unspoken but understood decision that Edward is not to marry Evelyn sets off a chain that ends in Edward's death which shatters the summer. A transparency of adolescence darkening into a more adult understanding, this creates a season of change and development in reasoning terms.