Her mother maintains that Deirdre wants the moon on a string, but Deirdre knows only that she doesn't want to ""suffocate in this hicktown"" of Green River, New York, where her mother compares her unfavorably to ""perfect"" older sister Angel, or to attend the local state college where her dear, solid boyfriend Timothy will study business in preparation for taking over his father's farm. So Deirdre, on graduating from high school, heads for Boston--where she's shocked to find Angel dropped out of college, working in a drug store, and living with bad-news Garth who is unworthy of her doting dependence. ""I had a breakdown,"" Angel explains, attributing her pre-Garth tensions to the lifelong pressure to be perfect. Deirdre proves more stable, landing a waitress job and reveling in her own room, with her own groceries in the ""guest"" kitchen at the rooming house. But her Green River discontent--""there must be more to life""--returns even before she quits the job over the gross cook's sexual harassment. At that low point Deirdre goes home for a weekend, but her resolve doesn't weaken and she manages to resist both the security Timothy offers and, back in Boston, the comfort of fellow roomer Tad, who introduces her to poetry and baklava but hasn't her talent for facing up to life. By Thanksgiving, Angel is getting straightened out, the parents have come to accept their daughters' independence, and volunteer work as a big sister has brought Deirdre a social-agency clerical job and an interest in studying social work. This tentative and unforced happy ending seems to follow naturally from Deirdre's quiet self-direction--a firm, if still unformed, sense of self that makes this dream of leaving home both believable and attractive.