A moving and honest account by American Book Award-winning novelist Dew of what she learned when her oldest son came out. Dew (Fortunate Lives, 1992, etc.) perceptively describes how, after finding out that one son was gay, the straight members of her family overcame confusion and grief, eventually arriving at an understanding far beyond tolerance. Like much of the memoir, Dew's evocation of the ``elongated moment'' in which she learned that her son Steve was gay demonstrates her gift for describing the details of unease: ``Steve seemed lost in his own house.... His expression was precisely the curious gaze of assessment he had cast my way thirty minutes after he was born.'' The frankness with which she remembers her own awkwardness, even her most excruciating mistakes, is also admirable and goes far to mitigate the whiff of smug self- congratulation that sometimes creeps into the book. The Family Heart is at its best when Dew is relating her internal monologues. In characterizing her initial grief, for example, she singles out her assumption that Steve won't have children; her fear that if her children never become parents, they will never understand how much she loves them; and her worry that ``if either of my sons didn't have children, how would he ever be able to forgive my failures?'' Dew's use of place is less inspiring. In particular, though her ability to capture the details of her physical environment is masterful, she uses weather as a metaphor for emotion so often that it quickly becomes a predictable and tiresome device. Despite stylistic lapses and a few bursts of preachiness, a reflective exploration of a mother's struggle with her attitudes toward homosexuality and a family's negotiation of difference.