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Robinson, a former contributing editor to Ladies' Home Journal, wryly narrates this memoir about growing up with a stern navy father who abruptly takes up breeding the then little-known gerbil in the late 1960s. Though her mother equates the creatures with rats, and her father must keep his behavior hushed in his military circles, his hobby soon becomes an obsession that he believes will not only make him an income but allow him to retire. Robinson grew up as a fish out of water navy brat in the 1970s with a strong-willed mother and younger siblings-including her sister Gail who died of cystic fibrosis at age four. But her father is the true focus; he accidentally discovers that gerbils have epileptic seizures, a discovery that leads him to become the world's largest supplier of gerbils bred for research. Robinson intersperses her compelling narrative with accounts of gerbil mayhem, managing to milk a great deal of humor and pathos out of the rodent that eventually became a common children's pet. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.