When Jorie's mother dies, she leaves her three young children and doctor husband to
fend for themselves. Their emotional survival is the subject of this lovely, subtle
debut novel set in Los Angeles and narrated by the youngest child and only girl, Jorie.
Her older brother copes by drinking, smoking, and skipping school; her middle brother
bides his time until he can leave home; and Jorie tries to act the way she thinks girls
are supposed to act, endearingly if ineffectively. The siblings exist ineffectively. The
siblings exist in a sort of limbo, coming and going as they please, never knowing too much
about each other, until their father has a heart attack. There isn't a trace of pop
psychology in these pages; Jorie and her brothers may be dented characters but they
remain whole ones, and as such they are remarkably touching.