One of Peck's more serious young novels, this is the story of three friends--four, if you count Kate's tart great-grandmother Polly, who completes their daily gathering for cards and conversation. It is told by Buck, the most placid among them, and focuses on what culminates in the suicide of Trav, the most troubled. Of the three young people, classmates at Slocum Township Junior High, the determined Kate, a natural leader and do-er, is "a hardcore Slo" (a rural local), Tray a well-off but alienated "Sub" (one of the IBM kids, punks, and preppies who inhabit the new subdivisions), and Buck a different sort of newcomer who lives in a trailer with his divorced hard-hat father and doesn't know where he belongs, but doesn't seem to worry. Trav, on the other hand, is always worried: about Soviet strategy in Latin America, about SATs two years early, about growing up in general. Unaccountably, on the night Kate is starring in the school play, Tray lands in the police station, caught shoplifting little kids' toys. Shipped off to an uncle's farm, he returns oddly calm, then hangs himself. Looking back, his shaken friends can see it coming, but can't explain it. Neither, it seems, can Peck, which makes the story seem oddly unresolved. Still, that's certainly preferable to a facile psychological case history; and the whole account has an air of firmly planted, strongly felt reality.