Scrappy, idiosyncratic glimpses into the world of families coping with a child's catastrophic illness. Dickens, a former nurse (One Pair of Hands, An Open Book) as well as a novelist (and great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens), became personally involved when a grandchild fought a successful battle against the rare, often fatal Kawasaki disease. After his recovery, she spent time on the children's wards of Massachusetts General Hospital. Unfortunately, she tells stories of family courage and fortitude in little bits and pieces, making individual cases difficult to follow and destroying the time sequence. The one tale that is straightforwardly presented is that of Chad Green, the boy with leukemia whose parents withdrew him from the Mass General treatment program and took him to Mexico, where he died during laetrile treatments. (The case, you'll recall, got into the courts.) Says another Mass General parent, in reaction: ""My child didn't suffer, and nor did Chad. He never vomited or lost his hair or bled. And he was curable. They robbed him of that. Parents don't have the right to make human sacrifices, any more than child-beaters do."" Sketchy intimations of what might have been a real story.