Coming of age in the '50s appears simpler, but was it? True, there was less money, and thus fewer choices. Relationships, however, could become just as tangled then as today. Dan Klein struggles to sort out major issues of his life and their meaning. Beth becomes a major player in this drama despite the differences that separate them. Older and more realistic, Beth becomes a catalyst who helps Dan to gain focus. The summer of 1955 moves from quaint to real for the serious reader of Seventeenth Summer, whether older or younger.