An updated formulaic second novel (after Songs of the Humpback Whale, 1992) in which the young heroine not only finds herself but along the way comes to terms with that other contemporary women's issue: motherhood. Paige O'Toole is carrying many heavy burdens when she takes off for Cambridge, Massachusetts, after graduating from high school in Chicago. She's Irish Catholic--which, here, means: her father invents useless objects and dreams of Ireland; her mother ran out on her when she was only five; and she's had an abortion. Though Paige has been accepted at the Rhode Island School of Design, she can't go--though it's not entirely clear why--and so she works at a diner. There, she meets Nicholas Prescott, a Harvard med student who's blessed with such good fortune that he has nightmares about failure. The two fall in love, but the Prescott family doesn't approve of Paige, and so she has to work at two jobs to get Nicholas through school. Just as he's becoming a rising star in the cardiology department of Mass. General, Paige falls pregnant, which causes a few problems but nothing compared to what happens when son Max is born. Nicholas is exhausted by his rounds; Paige is exhausted by Max; and the two drift apart (they seem never to have heard of babysitters). Finally, unable to cope, Paige runs away: ``I had to go. I didn't have any other choice....I didn't want to leave forever...just long enough to feel that I wasn't doing it all wrong, that I mattered, that I wasn't an extension of Max's or Nicholas' life.'' She finds herself, her long-lost mom, realizes that she doesn't share her mother's irresponsibility, and heads back home--to Max, baby, and eventual happiness. Some good writing, but not enough to sustain a concept-driven and rather old-fashioned story, despite its occasional contemporary gloss.