The meat of this book is nine chapter-length histories of men and women who rethought their beliefs and commitments, and changed the direction of their lives, in what the author sees as a process of personal growth. McDowell first came to know her characters as fellow members of the Cursillo (""a little course"") movement in San Francisco. Mainly Roman Catholic, this organization had the original purpose of revivifying parish life by integrating into it persons capable of leadership in the new atmosphere of post-Vatican II. What actually happened in varying degree was a re-socialization, obliterating unexamined and legalistic patterns, and issuing in new choices of lifestyle or occupation--and in service to the Bay Mexican community, or in opposition to the Vietnam war. The nine were, at baseline, a sales manager, a mother superior, a USMC major, a teacher at a Jesuit university, a nun/school administrator, a young housewife, and a woman from a Spanish-speaking migrant worker background. The stories come down on paper well-told, varied, thick in texture, engrossing--and though ""liberating"" to read, they also evoke the occasional gasp of surprise. A brief final chapter gives an account of their recording and editing. An opening section on ""theories of human development"" outlines those of Erikson, Jane Loevinger, Piaget, and William Perry as ""partial reflections of the development thinking we need."" The author's discussion stops short of resolution and seems a little uncertain. But it is the great merit of the book that the nine characters are allowed to tell their stories and discuss their meaning themselves.