Mother, I Have Something to Tell You by Jo Brans; research by Margaret Taylor Smith (Doubleday: $17.95).
Every mother dreams that her children, in that lovely phrase from the Psalms, will "follow in the path of righteousness." It's nice too if they become those proverbial doctors and lawyers.
Such dreams and expectations, however, were shattered when children described in "Mother, I Have Something To Tell You" announced they had become drug merchants or been in prison for committing major felonies, taken a homosexual lover, joined a cult or entered into an interracial marriage. Some became anorexic; one turned to suicide.
In this intelligent, always-absorbing work, Margaret Taylor Smith, whose rich anecdotal research is on file at the Murray Research Center at Radcliffe, and Jo Brans, a prize-winning writer, probe what went wrong within these families. They've chosen white middle-class women, who put all their emotional eggs into the basket of child-rearing, insisting on the firm tradition of disciplined homes, with rules, curfews, chores, and manners.