The prospective fictional pitfalls are many: 16-year-old Evie Hutchins, a backwoods-Maryland preacher's daughter, is spending the summer in the "godless household" of cousin Donna lean and her husband Tom--where, inevitably, her faith will waver and her own home, locked into ritual and good works, will lose something of its luster. But Naylor manages the crucial situation--the at-home birth and devastating "crib death" of Donna lean and Tom's baby--with sufficient emotional conviction (and infant-nurture detail) to carry Evie's self-searchings along. The book is still largely a composite, in which the various strands gradually and salubriously merge. Evie's loathed cousin Matt demonstrates that a skeptic can be a healthy influence and a moral bulwark. Her personable love-interest, Chris, turns out to be rather a lightweight. Her father's acceptance, even defense of Matt proves him not to be a narrow-minded zealot. Her sister Rose, who lost Tom to Donna lean, takes the first step toward reconciliation by attending baby Josh's funeral--and Donna Jean, crushed by Josh's death, takes the answering step of spending a restorative day at the Hutchins'. Erie, meanwhile, takes heart from the healing of breaches and the tolerance of doubts, and even begins to think seriously of Matt--whom we recognize early on as her counterpart in the search for selfhood. There's a lot of worthiness, in short, but the fluent, low-key storytelling, plus the vivid presence of baby Josh, will probably prevent readers from recognizing the underlying manipulation.