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Fifteen-year-old Clinton Willart arrives in Florida with $200 for his older brother, Berry-Berry, whom he idolizes. Berry-Berry had wired home for cash to go into business; actually he needs the money to pay a jail fine for beating up a prostitute. Once free, Berry-Berry sends Clinton back to Ohio, vaguely promising to return for Christmas. At home with Annabel, his talkative and meddling mother, and Ralph, his likeable but alcoholic father, Clinton views their life as humdrum compared with Berry-Berry's glamorous existence. Excitement suddenly comes into Clinton's life, however, with the appearance of Echo O'Brien, the daughter of Annabel's closest friend. Echo's beauty and charm captivate the entire family, particularly young Clinton. Then Berry-Berry returns. Again his appeal to women proves irresistible, and Echo falls in love with him. Berry-Berry almost returns her love, but when he learns that she is pregnant, his latent misogyny reasserts itself, and he leaves her. Filled with despair, Echo drives her car off a cliff. At first, Clinton decides to kill his brother, but when Berry-Berry breaks down and sobs, Clinton realizes how pathetic his brother really is. No longer shackled by a distorted adoration for his older brother, Clinton leaves Berry-Berry to his own self-inflicted misery.