Outwardly, this is a combination of narrative and mother's-diary entries about a brain-damaged son brought close to ""normalcy"" by the extraordinary intervention of not only family members, but 500 volunteers. The real story, however, is the process' effect on the family: mother Judy, father Jack, ten-year-old Scott, and 18-month-old Todd--all overshadowed by the birth of little Andy. Polikoff's suspicions that untreated jaundice in newborn Andy had caused his brain damage led her to a lawyer who recommended The Centre for Neurological Rehabilitation near Philadelphia, which insisted that if Andy were to ""bridge the area of injury and form a new, healthy, working linkage in the brain,"" he would have to be constantly stimulated, from nine in the morning till ten at night, by a process known as ""patterning."" This involved four people at a time pushing and pulling him, moving his limbs, showing him the patterns first of crawling, then of creeping, then of walking. So, for more than two years the Polikoff home was never free of strangers; medical bills sapped the family's finances, until they were forced to beg handouts; Scott and Todd were (and felt) completely ignored; and Judy had to take odd jobs--first to supplement Jack's income, then to replace it when he was laid off. Judy and Jack's relationship soured, Scott ran away to an uncle's house, Todd amassed a history of injuries that made him bitter and rebellious for years after. Only now, with Andy being mainstreamed into public schools at age nine, has the family slowly returned to a sense of balance. Sorrowful, agonized, difficult to read--but reassurance to those in similar throes that ""no feeling, no matter how mean or unhappy or momentarily hating, is out of line.