This novel is about the coming of age of a brother, Ralph, and his sister Molly. Even though Molly is a bright, young female who aspires to be a writer, she considers herself a mind housed within a long wooden box. While Molly and Ralph visit their Uncle Claude and grandfather, their mother takes their two older sisters around the world in preparation for marriage. Molly, not faced with many alternatives, spends the summer imitating Ralph. When Ralph asks her what dirty words she knows, his name, too, is added to her list of "unforgivables." Molly's presence, in essence, inhibits Ralph's male maturation. Therefore, the hunt for the mountain lion translates into a form of salvation for future Mollys as well as for Ralph. This novel, rich with symbolism, is an appropriate novel for the secondary classroom highlighting such subjects as feminism, anorexia, and dysfunction in the family.