Tempests in a middle-aged sandbox--enclosing the frayed psyches of a handful of child-rearing Southern Californians mucking around with self-fulfillment. The youth life-style of the Sixties has tripped up these parents, whose own childhoods were bummers, and now they're intent on hitting Meaning with wow relationships. Divorced TV newsperson Ruth has made the San Fernando Valley her home, where seventeen-year-old daughter Reggie subsists on Spaghetti-O's and shields little sister Dinah from the nighttime spectacle of ""some weirdo in the hall with his balls hanging out."" New lover Marc arrives to bring forth from Ruth the Ultimate O and it's off to a beautiful Canadian outpost where Marc has a small hotel--so the pairings are Marc and Ruth, Dinah and Marc's young son, Reggie and boyfriend. But the spiraling tantrums of the adults and their equally unstrung peers (I want! I want!) make cynical survivors or trembling wraiths of their children, and it is this realization--dimly arrived at but not too late--that turns Ruth at last toward a real and committed motherhood. The author has set it all down with earnest and often amused attention to the whole hairy scene, not missing one artifact--from the churning seas of the waterbed to tank tops, caftans, and those stacks of Celeste frozen pizza.