Written by the women (plus and minus a few) who developed Our Bodies, Ourselves from a stapled underground pamphlet into a glossy bestselling classic, another jumbo-sized examination as consistently readable and attentive to everyday issues as the first. In nine compatible chapters, each the work of one or two writers, they consider the parenting of different age groups--the early, middle, teenage, and older years--and related facets: how to share parenthood (""Our view is that it is impossible to parent alone""), how family systems function, how society affects families, and how to get help--everything from the La Leche League to Alateen. There are snatches of poetry and countless quotations, a text that despite its mixed sources reads fluently, and assurance throughout that parenting, a learned set of skills, can be managed. This hasn't the bright uniqueness of Bodies: there are other accessible accounts of parenting, although most share the white middle-class bias represented here. But this makes room for special cases--gay parents, black parents--in separate sections, regularly incorporates the dilemmas of single parents into the marrow, and still comes up smiling. Taken in tandem with Mothering (see Heffner, below), a more formal look at process, it's a maternity ward boon.