A rakish bachelor and his introspective daughter survive the 70s-California style. The Family Ruin, as described by the precocious young Inez Ruin, is a complex one. Her father, Paul, is selfobsessed, intrusive, opinionated, and profligate. He's also brilliant, adoring, magnetic, and liberating. Unable and unwilling to sustain a monogamous relationship, he's divorced from Inez's mother, Connie, and claims that he will never marry again, since "marriage is a bad deal for everyone--particularly women." His intriguing personality and movie-star good looks mean that he's never alone, and many varied female identities are paraded before Inez in the form of a never-ending string of girlfriends that her father loves and then leaves. Inez swings between two worlds--one represented by her mother, Connie, an ex-star flamenco dancer, and Connie's mother, Abuelita, a Peruvian immigrant whoworks devotedly as a housekeeper for a recording-industry executive, and the other by Paul's mother--old-money Grandmother Ruin, who invites Inez for horse-riding outings and tea parties that are really lessons in refinement. Bouncing between an innocent, secure life with Connie and Abuelita, and premature, though thrilling, exposures to an ultrasophisticated and unregulated life during her visits to her father in San Francisco, Inez attempts to find a reality that is somewhere in the middle. As Inez progresses through high school, we are witness along with her to the preoccupations of Californians of the age: drugs, sex, art, surfing, love beads, Nixon, motorcycles, and the goal of not making a big deal out of anything. Inez encounters them all in her climb toward maturity, culminating in a trip to Hawaii that becomes a perilous slide into drugged oblivion. She makes it out in time, but her beloved half brother doesn't--and her ascension to adulthood occurs in the task of rescuing him. Martha Sherrill's ability to reconstruct time and place in absolute pitch-perfect detail allows for a remarkable rendering of an exhilarating and confusing decade of American life.