The beloved author of dozens of funny, wise books about escapades and troubles taking place on a finn ground of family affection has written an account of her own early years--very different from the happy childhoods she usually depicts, but told with the same immediacy and clarity. Born in Oregon of a father from pioneer stock and a "schoolmarm" mother, Beverly was early transplanted to Portland when the family farm failed. There, her father, who loved the outdoors, was condemned to years as a bank guard; her mother, intelligent but convention-bound and insensitive to the emotional needs of her family, stayed home and devoted herself to Beverly--making her clothes, choosing her friends, always intruding but rarely understanding. Beverly, yearning for the affection her parents may have felt but rarely expressed and sensitive to the nuance of every word from the time she could speak, lived in a neighborhood full of children but made few friends; she always wrote, receiving recognition early--and following an excellent piece of advice from her mother: keep it simple, and funny. This moving memoir of pain that Cleary is still struggling to forgive suggests that her happy stories--reminiscent of Little Women--are born of a yearning to re-create life as it might have been. Readers will find here not only a candid revelation of a favorite author but a fascinatingly detailed picture of Oregon in the 20s and 30s. Beautifully written; memorable.