Once again, Brazelton (What Every Baby' Knows; To Listen to a Child; etc.) uses the predicaments of actual families to reflect on child development, this time focusing on serious situations affecting entire families: adoption, stepfamily tensions, grave illness in a child, death of a young parent. Brazelton writes in a familiar, soothing voice, pointing out strengths in the midst of crises and supplying reassuring insights. He recognizes, for example, competition between parents for a child's affection; sees that children can postpone grief until a mourning parent can attend to them; advises on a "re-entry" period for a child returning to the stepfamily's home; and distinguishes between support-group help and the interventions of an individual or family counselor. As elsewhere, Brazelton consistently shows an understanding of the facts of family life: parents can't feel the same about each child, for example. Here, he goes beyond those more common strains to consider some harsher truths: that "adoption is a lifelong job"; that one child's illness may inhibit the development of others; that for a family under stress, "normal" has different meanings. Presenting these brave and resilient families over a period of time, Brazelton demonstrates enduring concern for a variety of parenting styles and respect for differences in timing. Although some readers may question particular suggestions--revealing adoption to a child at the earliest opportunity--those who share his traditional view of the family as a durable, adaptable unit will appreciate his solicitude for assaults on its stability.