She is Alethea Hunt, an Australian adolescent, a "healthy girl-plant growing in the sun." From her very beginning she is a special witness in a special landscape: "I was born with equipment that I have had all my life - abilities and capacity to absorb from my society things that will build on what I started with - so that others cannot avoid calling me 'intelligent' and 'able'; and those with less speed and facility in gathering and adding to themselves cannot avoid looking up to me. I was a human from the first moment I spied daylight."
Her time is not the unrecognizable future, her place, Australia. As we follow Alethea from birth through her eighteenth birthday, courtesy of her diaries, notebooks, and papers, we are led on an unforgettably complex and exotic journey, indelibly marked with humor and pain, through an atmosphere that is almost totally unforgiving, steeped as it is in ruthless competition, brutality, misshapen lives, frenzied promiscuity, and utter disdain for those who do not make the "grade." But Alethea Hunt is a child apart, a singular young woman, and an exceptional personality striving to come to terms with herself in a haunted world. Often a victim, more often a survivor, she is buoyed by those things that her society has labeled as obsolete: an unfailing sense of self, of love, of vulnerability; her authentic and original voice stands as a lone outpost amid the vanishing complex of feelings and meanings.