In the note at the end of this story the author say, "This story is an experiment, an attempt at a mainstream story."
In my opinion it was a successful attempt of the highest degree. The depth of the characters and the plot of this story are incredible and believable.
I got so involved with everything, that I had tears in my eyes during portions of the story. There have been very few times that I can recall crying while reading.
A coming of age story, which I'm a sucker for, that doesn't involve sex, (hands on anyway), but focuses on the relationships between Dave, his three friends, and Cartwheel, the new life guard at the swimming pool. The two most fascinating things about Cartwheel is that he's a hippie and he has a van, which Dave and his three best friends call "The Makeout Machine."
When a bad accident happens, David's hero worship of Cartwheel gets shattered; and the change this brings about in Dave and the strength it adds to his relationship with Cartwheel is beautifully done.
I rank this story with Stephen King's "The Body."