Encounters with middle-aging in the light of Daniel Levinson, Roger Gould, and a few oft-cited others--but with sufficient truth-to-life to make this, like Scobey's Short Rations (on her weight-loss diet), companionable and cathartic. Lives there a woman who does not have a ""magic age"" which she relinquishes, with shock, in her fifties? (And didn't Reagan indeed present ""an aging population"" with a chance to vote for ""someone older than themselves""?) Is there a mother who does not have some of Scobey's difficulties letting go--adjusting to collegians who live by their own rules (""Whose House Is It Anyway?""), to new emotional attachments that take precedence (""No longer would Rafe and I be David's primary family""), to offspring taking up strange roles in distant parts? For the Scobeys, the wrenches of being Peace Corps Volunteer parents have multiple rewards--not unlikely in a family where, movingly, the lawyer-father was ready to resettle in Canada rather than lose a son to Vietnam or exile. Later, non-family sections offer less involving, more conventional recognitions--on the mid-stream penchants for fitness and risk-taking, on the differing expectations of women and men, on the guilts and resentments of becoming responsible for aging parents (while adjusting to those maturing young). And the guidance can sound like inspirational peptalk--i.e., ""we'll have a better shot at a lively and vital old age of our own if we work out our family relationships while we are still in the middle of that continuum."" But if the concluding palaver is less felicitous than the opening tremors and bemusements, this is still an honest parsing of a difficult passage.