Gr 7-10 Ambitious Wray Jean Child organizes her high-school years with a three-year plan to create ``a new and improved'' version of herself. She fo cuses upon academics, leadership, and social acceptance to make herself sig nificant in her small-town Washington school. Following the often meaning less rules and conforming to the expec tations of others, she assumes, will in evitably bring success and security. Her determination perplexes her fa ther, who has adopted a carpe diem perspective since his cancer surgery. When her father's cancer returns, she is racked with fear and uncertainty. After his death, she undergoes a classic deni al reaction, plunging obsessively into activities until she has a breakdown. During her recovery, Wray Jean begins to assess and reshape her identity, dis carding empty roles for those which will bring her the types of pleasures she experienced with her father. The lively first-person narrative, engaging charac ters in warm relationships, and fre quent humorous touches keep the tone light, yet there are themes of substance beneath. Friendship, conformity, ambi tion, identity, and death are treated competently in a compact space. Mer ilyn S. Burrington, Vergennes Union High School, Vt.