A gaunt, intermittently affecting novel about how Abby, a young death-obsessed woman, takes a shriving journey into nowhere--or to self-realization, depending on how long the reader can stick with the somewhat muddied drift. Devastated by the death of her mother and father, who had drilled into her the need to conquer fear and see the game through alone, Abby escapes from her Big Sur home. She backpacks, freight-hops, and lies her way as far as the Rockies and settles into an abandoned barn. Before long she has attracted a collection of children, among them motherless Judith, daughter of a camping-ground manager, and Tommy, ignored by her father (who had wanted a boy). Away from adult ticky-tacky, the kids and Abby relate, and then Indian Dave, a loner and master of survival arts, arrives, and the vibes are promising. However, sensitive Judith, violently exposed to the racial and sexual insinuations and crudities of one of her father's customers, causes Dave and Abby to be driven away. Dave would claim the woman he now truly loves, but Abby refuses protection and journeys on alone through wilderness dangers, hallucinations, and Final isolation. Although the young people, particularly Judith, are convincing, Abby's lonely trek seems merely spaced out and too tenuously linked to the traumas and dark undercurrents of the father/daughter relationship which pervades the book. However, this is an ambitiously conceived first novel with root-real dialogue and some fine scenery.