The cautionary, convincingly harrowing chill-by-pill study of a housewife's amphetamine addiction. Sara Richardson, 39, mother of four, married to coolly authoritative and successful Dr. Harry for 17 years, has been on speed since college. It's a shield against fear and hurt. It's a safe place. ""It's power, it's freedom. It's knowing you exist. Once you've known that feeling. . . nobody would want to give it up."" Speed lets Sara recover her essential self--the Sara who might have been a sculptor, who had control over her own life. But, with warning lectures from Harry and sad jokes from her two teenagers about Mother the ""speed freak,"" Sara does sometimes try to come down and go cold turkey--only to find that she can't bear the sensations of crashing: drowning, being buried alive, feeling worthless. So: leaving the house is agony; busy Harry, although attentive with professional concern, is not truly supportive (Is there another woman?); and the children, however much loved, are messy, wrangling, and bombarding her with their needs. Finally, Sara's paranoiac rages and exhilarating highs swing out of control, escalating into dangerous episodes, then tragedy: in a drug-induced psychotic state, an ecstasy of love for her one-year-old baby, Sara causes his death. And we last see Sara in therapy, learning to confront the realities of both her sorrow and her potential, recognizing that her family--a reformed Harry and three children--do love and need her. True, there are implausibilities here (how come Dr. Harry couldn't read the warning signals?); and the roots of Sara's initial addiction are oversimplified. But the housewife's daily round is set down in knowledgeable detail, and the symptomatic progress of drug-use seems medically sound. Scary stuff.