A female coming-of-age-in-the-Sixties tale that's more complex, perceptive, and intriguing than most. Mattison, an author of poems (Animals) and short stories (Great Wits, 1988) whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, establishes herself as a fine novelist as well in this thoughtful tale of growing up human. Susan Sternfeld's Brooklyn childhood with a divorced, non- nurturing mother and a pair of old-fashioned Jewish grandparents did not prepare her for a life of romance. Nevertheless, Susan valiantly battles through her first complex boy-girl relationship while in college (she loves him, he likes her as a friend), then ends up married to a Catholic boy from Connecticut almost before she knows it. Her minor befuddlement on learning that her husband still attends daily mass is more than offset by her joy at finding herself at last a member of an extensive, close-knit family. Her new life as a social worker in New Haven and, eventually, as the mother of twins, takes on a serene, reassuring quality that she never experienced as a child. With a sense of security firmly established, Susan dares to explore her life more deeply: she falls in love with a Jewish doctor (who charmingly reminds her that her last name means ``field of stars''), then wisely breaks off with him, faces the inevitable confrontation when her husband learns of the affair, and even manages to support her best friend when she realizes that she loves the doctor, too. A suicidal sister-in-law, Susan's remarried mother, and her aged grandmother all begin to depend on Susan's strength, while Susan herself learns to value what she has and to live for the surprising beauty in her ordinary life. Honest and sensitive--a pleasure to read.