Grove puts a human face on the issue of the homeless and dispossessed, making one family's plight bitterly real. Lori isn't sure what to make of Vern, with her tight T-shirt and scabby, dirty knees; but she can empathize with Vern's dreams of planetary travel and sky-walking above the troubled earth. After all, pudgy Lori--who privately thinks of herself as Lorelei the mermaid--has just painted her bedroom to look as much as possible like the bottom of the sea. When Vern leaves school, Lori realizes that she has lost a friend; and when the two meet again, Lori discovers that Vein's space-walking fantasies help her forget that Veto and her family have been living in a station wagon for the last 15 months. Vern and Lori know each other so fleetingly that some readers may wonder how they manage to become so firmly involved in each other's worlds, while their story--first ""Lorelei's"" account, then Vern's--is occasionally redundant. But the portrait of Vein's family is both realistic and sympathetic; a bad economy and hard luck have put these people on the road, and their vulnerability is frightening and poignant. Generous and moving.