It seemed strange to me that adults could be so babyish,"" says Teddy Hecht. To us it's merely sad and shallow, and the same goes for Teddy's preoccupation with making over her overweight, unglamorous divorced mother. Teddy's Dad, a copywriter who dreams of the serious writing he's going to ""really do"" someday, is already remarried to meticulous, ever-smiling Shelley, but Teddy hangs on doggedly to the notion that her parents could be reconciled if only Mother were slimmer and better dressed. Eventually sympathetic Aunt Marsha redirects Teddy's energy into a more productive campaign to get Mother to stop smoking and, through helping a friend come to terms with anxious, over-protective parents, Teddy comes round to a more accepting definition of love. Wolitzer latches onto the heartache of Teddy's situation and projects a familiar, facile view of the adjustment period. Maybe that's all one has the right to expect, and Teddy is as glibly, entertainingly instructive as many other heroines in her situation. Yet Wolitzer shows bother-somely little respect for her own characters; she draws them as two-dimensional cartoons of contemporary alienation. People as wanly empty as these need more than love (or, in Teddy's case, a new shingle hairdo) to make their lives worth living. One suspects that the author knows it and is capable of saying so, but has opted instead for the easy way out.