I almost named my daughter Menolly because I loved this book so much. And it would have been a completely appropriate name for her - she is currently in college pursuing a degree in vocal performance and has many musical talents and abilities.I read this book when I was an adolescent and it struck such a chord with me that I read it and re-read it once or twice a year until I was an adult with children myself. Menolly is the daughter of a strict practical sea holder on Pern. Her father has little time or patience for such frivolous activities as music and is very conscience of propriety and everyone's proper place in the social structure of his sea hold. When the sea hold's harper, and Menolly's musical mentor and friend, dies, a replacement is not expected for many months. Menolly's father has a duty to fulfill in the education of the sea hold's children so he reluctantly agrees to let Menolly assume that responsibility temporarily until the new Harper arrives. Menolly instructs the children carefully as her parents expect her to. But her music calls to her incessantly and she can't contain herself completely. She composes and writes a song one afternoon in the classroom after the children have left to do their chores. Unfortunately, her father happens to be passing by in the hall, doesn't recognize the tune, and proceeds to beat Menolly for the audacity of breaking his commandment of "no tuning." Menolly is so devastated by this event, she decides to run away from home. She gathers up some food and clothes and escapes through the front door of the sea hold, leaving it unlocked and open during a Fall (something she had forgot about in her haste to leave). A Fall is the deadly rain from the sky (actually space) that contains a virulent organism that east all things organic in seconds. Only stone, metal or water can protect you from it. The Dragonriders of Pern fly to fight the menace before it can reach the ground, but if the terrain is rocky or watery, they will let it fall. Menolly is trapped on the beach and squirms her way into a small cave where a fire lizard queen and her eggs are hatching. As they hatch, the hungry fire lizards leave the cave only to be destroyed by the Fall outside. Menolly is desparate to save them, so starts feeding them from her supplies. In the end, she saves nine fire lizards and soon discovers that like Dragons, they now "look" to her. Menolly survives for a time on her own, but again is caught out in a Fall and tries to outrun the leading edge. A Dragonrider spots her, thinking she's a boy because she is very tall and lanky, scoops her up and takes her back to the Weir. From that point forward, Menolly's life changes, for the better. Menolly still struggles and is very unsure of herself. Eventually, those around her that care and befriend her draw her out from her harden shell and she eventually finds herself a student in the Harper Hall. This is a great coming of age tale.