Ciment, author of the story collection Small Claims (1986), has come up with a charming first novel so light and breezy it nearly flutters away. ``When I was small, I believed that the atmospheres girdling the earth included an extra sphere. There was the blue-black stratosphere, the airy and weather-beaten troposphere, and just below table height where I lived, a sphere about which I told no one--the kindersphere.'' So begins Kim's story (fortunately, the cute bits diminish with age) as the resentful daughter of Gloria, a pretty blond manic-depressive who makes her living hawking homemade aphrodisiacs. In an effort to elude the Postmaster General's justifiable wrath, Gloria is forced to cross state lines regularly in the pair's Airstream trailer, and Kim hardly enters a school before she's forced to move again. She's relieved, then, when a collision with a Packard forces mother and daughter to pause and recuperate in the home of Arthur, its gentlemanly driver. But the travelers' injuries have barely had time to heal before Kim, now 15, discovers she's in love with widowed, lonely, conventional Arthur, and, taking advantage of Gloria's new obsession with a sure-fire pyramid scheme, attempts a seduction. Spooked, Arthur flees, leaving his house to the two others--but Kim is not the type to let herself be so easily dumped. A college education for Kim and a dozen fizzled scams for Gloria later, Kim tracks down Arthur, consummates their love, notifies her mother and moves back in with Arthur. Naturally, Gloria follows, and the odd trio that first found happiness together a decade earlier pick up where they left off--in a slightly different combination. An honorable contribution to the dysfunctional-mother genre- -though there's not much substance beneath the whimsy.