Speaking to a college graduation class in 1970, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. advised them all to get into something universal, like astrology or palmistry: ""Everyone has a birthday, and almost everyone has a palm."" Viorst is mining such a vein here--for everyone experiences losses in life. Unfortunately, her approach to this profound subject is unremittingly trite. Since her Pollyannaish thesis is that ""these losses are necessary because we grow by losing and leaving and letting go,"" the book will offer cold comfort to genuinely grief-stricken readers, who may not be able to see that silver lining of self-growth that she keeps waving at them. Viorst, a columnist for Redbook, here has written an overblown magazine article, not a book. She is anecdotal and muzzily upbeat; Joyce Brothers after a few white-wine spritzers. Her early chapters--on the loss experienced by babies whose mothers leave, even for a few hours--seem rather crassly aimed at reassuring stay-at-home parents, at the expense of guilting out any working Moms. Voluble on this early ""loss"" and other survivable losses (such as ""grief"" in adolescence for the loss of childhood), Viorst is writing mostly about our handling of diminished expectations as we grow older: she has very little to say about the more serious topics of true loss, true grief, or death. There is a consistent evasion of the deeper levels and significance of loss. This one will appeal only to connoisseurs of the verbless sentence.