Fine writing and sensitive characterizations distinguish this new novel by the author of Clara's Heart, which won the 1985 London Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writer's Award. The plot revolves around Daniel Fell, a senior at a suburban high school where students are divided into two factions, affluent Jewish kids like Daniel, and working-class Italians. Early in the school year, Daniel sheds his virginity with the help of one of the Italian girls, Julietta Pollano. Their romance is short-lived and when Daniel is threatened by Julietta's cousins, the dreaded Pollano brothers, only his acquaintance with star quarterback Gianni Scaravento saves him. As the year progresses, friendship blossoms between these two very different boys, and Gianni's terminally ill mother, Angela, helps Daniel come to terms with his parents' impending divorce. Olshan is a gifted writer who subtly lays bare his characters' emotions, investing familiar themesdeath, divorce, coming-of-agewith vitality. This is a haunting and memorable story.