Teenagers in small-town Texas in the late 1950's: it sounds like a retake on The Last Picture Show, but Scofield (Gringa, 1988; Beyond Deserving, 1991) manages to make this darkly compelling novel all her own. Basin, Texas, is where 18-year-old David Puckett has lived his whole life. His mother Marge works in a mental hospital. His father Saul is an embittered Jewish tailor from New York who abandoned the family for years, returning when David was 13. Saul and Marge spend their time together drinking and arguing. David knows in his bones that his father will leave again someday, and the teenager dreams of his own way out, probably in the form of a tennis scholarship to college. Through tennis, David has been befriended by some of the country club crowd, notably the Kimbrough family, whose daughter, Beth Ann, voted Most Beautiful in the senior class, seems to have her eye on him. But there are others with claims on David as well- -his steady girlfriend, cheerleader Glee; prickly intellectual Patsy Randall, his costar in the school play; and spacey Sissy, the troubled girl he met at his mother's hospital. When two tragedies shake the town, causing David to lose the camaraderie and support of both his best friends, he feels almost pulled apart by the choices he has to make. Finding a way out and, more importantly, picking the right path, is trickier and more heartbreaking than he ever dreamed. The novel's end is powerful and probably inevitable, but disappointing nonetheless. Scofield wins us over completely with David, a strong, smart,just-flawed-enough character, and we can't help wishing him a better fate. Coming-of-age, served up Texas-style. Plenty potent, it could bring tears to your eyes.