Set in San Francisco, it's a story that couldn't be more contemporary: a lesbian couple, Nan and Marina, live in the Mission District with Nan's teenage son, Christopher. When Christopher exhibits self-destructive behavior and is diagnosed as schizophrenic, the family goes into crisis mode, discovering its strengths and weaknesses and capacity for love. A slender, handsome woman with shoulder- length hair, D'Erasmo is dressed in a white shirt and jeans. [...] I feel there is a kind of ethic here, or a wish or a dream, for making a beautiful life. D'Erasmo writes lyrically about San Francisco ("She is unexpectedly pierced by the beauty of the fat, bewitched city," "This foggy land of plenty") and creates characters, like so many of us, who migrated here from other parts of the country. Nan, who runs a bookstore, is level-headed, intense and vigilant, a woman with a "chess-piece head" and "the gaze of someone who has witnessed ruins and is still trying to figure out what caused them." D'Erasmo wonders what the children of gays and lesbians will say about their lives once they reach 30, how their backgrounds will mark or distinguish them as adults. [...] I'm 42, I've been in relationships and those exasperations, the pushing and pulling, the feeling of deep intimacy and also profound disappointment, are very familiar to me. D'Erasmo borrowed details from her partner's painting studio -- the smells, the clutter, the grit and the mess -- and says, happily, that Povinelli never minded the pilfering. Not unlike Christopher -- a boy who, despite the close attention and love of his parents, is seized by a mental illness for which there's no cure?