Beau is ugly and so self-conscious about being photographed for the high school yearbook that he makes a sad joke of it, showing up at the photographer's in a too-tight old shirt and a nudie-girlie tie left behind by his runaway father. That picture, sans head, is what greets us on the cover, and as one character here is fond of remarking, it's gross. But Litton the photographer takes an interest in Beau, gives him a job, lends him a camera, and life begins to look up. Beau's new interest in photography fits with his love for Claudia, a knockout beauty contestant and would-be model whom he has admired from afar since first grade and whom he now photographs to their mutual satisfaction. And his desire to catch with his camera the real person behind appearances fits with his lifelong wish that people would see through his looks to the good guy he is. The same judging-by-appearances question pops up when Litton's studio is burglarized and Beau is suspected; it's reflected in Claudia's isolation from the other kids at school; and it gets a sad-ironic twist in a dying man's happy-family photograph. Toward the end in fact this one note is too explicitly and extensively sounded, but otherwise the pieces fit together smoothly and not too simplistically. Beau is a sympathetic character, and the other characters and their relationships have more life and texture than is usual in YA novels.