When M.V. Sexton speaks it's in her own sure voice, which makes this a pleasure to read. The first-person novel deals with the summer Martha Venable Sexton is 16 and her strict great-aunt Gert, who has raised her, sends her out to find a summer job. She is hired at once by a happy baker, Brad Bradley, an IBM dropout given to kissing his wife in public. (This embarrasses M.V. no end.) Brad and Rachel Bradley like M.V.'s forthright ways, while coping on the job gives her a further sense of self and moves her to stand up to Aunt Gert and to press for information about her parents, who died in an accident when M.V. was six. During the summer she also acquires friends her age when the boy across the street starts taking her out; and, in her own direct, disarming way, she becomes friendly with a nice young man of 25 whose ""more than friendly interest"" she discourages as more than she's ready for. It's the sort of story where everyone turns out nice: Under M.V.'s influence silent Uncle Milton (Aunt Gert's husband) shows signs of life, Aunt Gert unbends surprisingly, and even the rude, rich supplier who's been pressing Brad for payment shows his humanity--after he's paid--in a tension-breaking batter-and-frosting-tossing free-for-all in the bakery's back room. But outside of Rachel's frosting, there's nothing sugary about it--thanks mostly to M.V.'s fresh, feet-on-the-ground personality.