Instant enlightenment, too--with the practical tips coming fast and furious. If only--one thinks--author Kalter, herself a stepmother, were not so locked into justifying her on-again, off-again relationship with seven-year-old Amy, or foisting her desperately unfunny gallows humor on the unsuspecting reader (""We are a nation of parents and stepparents, all plotting murder""). But anyone willing to wade through the poor-little-me blues, and to write off some farfetched plans and programs, will appreciate the explicit warnings to meet the stepchild in neutral territory; plan a month-long or summer-long visit carefully, with special attention to the ""grand finale"" week; learn to distinguish genuine illness from the attention-getting kind; and keep a list of babysitters, people to answer childcare questions, etc. An entire chapter of day-by-day projects goes perhaps a little overboard on artsy-craftsy, ""clorox-painting""-the-T-shirt kinds of activities, but taken in moderation they might provide reasonable outlets for togetherness. Not without its bias against step-parenting per se, but decent solutions to some of the more tangible problems.