Second-novelist Lawrence (The Life of Helen Alone, 1986) offers an impressionistic, sometimes sentimental picture of a daughter of the Canadian prairies who finds herself by leaving home--but must journey back again to free herself to love. Min McCune, raised in the Ontario factory town of Wyandotte--a ""sober, snowbound, grey"" world--has found her professional niche as a photographer, and a welcome new home in southern California. Love, too, has entered her life. Peter, a California-born therapist from a rambunctious, open-hearted family, wants to marry her. But Min's own family past shadows her hope for a sunny future with Peter. A book project--photographing hot springs--gives her the chance to explore the past that has blocked her present, and to put behind her the painful losses of her childhood--her mother's death from cancer, the failed young loves of early adolescence, the limitations of a provincial upbringing (""she could hardly wait to get away, certain that she was living in an unswept corner of the civilized world, a grubby, linty little pocket . . .""). Back in Wyandotte she is reunited with her irritating younger sister Rina, and with Mac, her beloved father, who reveals to her the secrets of his own family. As she begins to understand his regrets and the choices he has made, she is able to feel close to her own family, and thus to Peter, who waits patiently for her in California. While the plot has its awkward moments, there are some strongly etched scenes of Min's childhood. In all, Lawrence is at her best when conjuring up the daily details of a small-town girlhood.