Hobe investigates Adult Children of Alcoholics, a recovery group patterned after Al-Anon's and A.A.'s Twelve Step program, and finds much of ACOA helpful and much lacking. She writes as one ACOA to another and is at her strongest in her personal story as the daughter of an alcoholic stepfather and co-alcoholic mother. Little Phyllis tried to care for these two drunks, who were incapable of giving love since they hated themselves, and grew up to be a solemn, perfectly functioning, frightened woman. In Philadelphia, though, she found a psychiatrist who awakened in her the thought that she was two people, an adult and a child, but an adult who responded to hard times as a frightened child. Gradually, Hobe learned to separate childhood from adult responses, and even to relive her childhood in search of playfulness. Later, in ACOA she finds out more about her flip side, her workaholic rigidity, hidden anger, guilt, and responsibility to make perfect any upset anywhere. She takes to task the Twelve Steps, which were written in the mid-30's by males for males, and sees a need for gender separation in groups. She sees in the Steps ""a great deal of guilt, remorse, humility, confession, dependence, repentance, and restitution, but nothing about healing the past and building a healthy future."" This is untrue about healing the past and building a healthy future (e.g., the Eighth and Ninth Steps call for making amends). Al-Anons who read this will feel that Hobe projects her own fear of dependency on group dependency and never cites one recovery in either ACOA or Al-Anon, ACOA's parent group, since she sees recovery as parting from all Twelve Step groups and a recovery would puncture her thesis. Warm and thoughtful, but for stretches argumentative and boring.