"Sitting in the Bay Window" is a very important book for a very narrow segment of American society: affluent people with spoiled alcoholic children in their late teens or twenties who have either never left home or who have returned for more of the largesse that fed their self-centeredness in the first place.

It takes a will of at least high-impact plastic to get at the really good news of Mumey's book, considering his almost overpowering overuse of the exclamation point, his breathless lack of style ("get the idea?" appears so often the book might as well have been written by a New York taxi driver) and his mystifying mingling of "him" and "her" as second-reference pronouns within the same paragraph, as if no usage were to be left untortured in the battle to offend no one.

Mumey runs an outpatient alcoholism treatment center in Aurora, Colo., and one of the assumptions of this book is that the youngster and his entire family are involved in treatment somewhere, whether the kid is in an inpatient facility or at one like Mumey's. Almost every page has somebody running off to therapy in somebody else's car, or driving somebody to treatment or picking somebody up, as if this whole family has nothing better to do than get him or her to his or her counselor.

That kind of treatment is expensive, and it takes a heap o' spending to make that kind of house a home.

The value of the book is in the sort of advice it offers just such a family on how to get along, with chapters on how to keep from being an enabler (one who makes it impossible for others to realize the consequences of their actions by covering up for them), setting limits for how the young alcohol abuser is going to be living now that he's a guest in the home that raised him, how to draw up a contract to enforce terms of that living, and how to give and take in reaching such a contract.

Most of all, Mumey continually stresses the value of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Al-Anon family programs in recovery for the youngster whose drinking problem has been diagnosed, accepted and treated.

Mumey, himself a recovered alcoholic, has this to say about therapy, largely as derived through the AA experience:

"Psychologists tell us that we write out life scripts when we are 4 or 5 years old. That is, we are pretty much predictable by then as to how we will handle life's problems. I like to think that therapy is a way in which we can rewrite those scripts."

If you have a kid who crashed on alcohol before he got grown up, or had to come home before she really got a good start (there, I've done it Mumey's aggravating way), this book may be for you. Just bear in mind that it is material-oriented, and that rewards and punishments are spoken of here in terms of car loans and who'll pay to have the wrecked BMW fixed. There is almost no mention of the spiritual part of recovery or living afterward, and Mumey should know better.