Elizabeth de Trevino, author of serene, mildly hortatory juvenile novels, here recalls her childhood with a loving family in a ""brawling, dusty"" San Joaquin valley town and her wide-eyed career beginnings in Boston and Hollywood. Domestic incidents and dialogue underscore her lawyer father's charm and humanity and her mother's stable strength, but the backward glances are weakened by a lock-step recital of old rugged glories (viz., ""There were no air conditioners in those days""). De Trevino traveled to Boston to study the violin, but limited talent and a spot assignment with Philip Hale, dean of Boston music critics, propelled her into journalism. Groomed for the inevitable, unwanted sob sister niche, she nevertheless pulled off some solid interviews with performers, particularly during several summers in Hollywood. Charles Laughton outlined to her his system for tailoring acting techniques to a series of brief takes (code the script on a one-to-ten scale of ""relaxation or tension"") and writer John Huston explained his switch to directing by asserting, ""If you want to do something first-rate in this world,"" be the boss. But this is primarily a recap of young states of mind for not-so-young readers.