Let's have a Halloween happening, Mom,"" says 13-year-old Rachel, throwing her arms around her mother. ""'Wonderful,' Ginger [Mom] declared. 'I love it already. What? Where? Tell us.'"" Sand sculpting at the beach is Rachel's latest whim--a few weeks earlier, at her bohemian mother's wedding to the more stable Norm, Rachel wanted everyone to go ride the old merry-go-round at the zoo--so now, 14-year-old Sandy, her new step-brother, is hauled along to the beach against his will. Later, she has them all roller skating across the Golden Gate Bridge. Soon Rachel's single-minded insistence on family togetherness turns to perverse attention-getting and then to self-defeating disruption, and the new family ties become frayed. Unsettled by her own father's death two years earlier, Rachel now requires commitment from Norm--who gives it toward the end, but also makes her realize that she has to earn their ""truce."" Like Rachel's, Terris' sledgehammer method is off-putting. Rachel doesn't really change--her Christmas gift to the family is a harp recital back on the Golden Gate Bridge--but as the impression she projects turns from annoyingly fey to intensely troubled to groping for control, she takes on some validity as a character and establishes a claim to readers' sympathy.