The varying levels of growth, perception and awareness as Margaret and her brother Laurie absorb the secrecy and shame of their father's death, and pierce their mother's dishonest attitude toward it and their social standing. These are their slow steps in their adjusting to a new middlewestern town, their mother's old friends, the schools, in their rebellion and evasiveness towards their mother's directives. In a vortex of spite, tightening nerves, a familiar environment grown strange,- in the extension of adult pressures into their lives, the individual crises mount in intensity, until Margaret slowly tortures the truth from their mother. In sharing it with Laurie, she brings to a climax the unbalance which has pursued him. The children, growing up, reflect the tragedy of immaturity, insecurity, suspicious ignorance and the poison of slow deceit. A taut monotone, with careful shading, this is not for primer-readers.