Although the title of this book hints at a possibly salacious expose, Reed offers a generous, loving and thorough treatment of contemporary North American nuns. What is most arresting about her portrait is the tremendous diversity among the women she profiles. In one chapter, we meet habited, cloistered Passionist nuns who rise at 2 a.m. to pray, flog their bare skin, and speak for only one hour each day; they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with activist sisters who teach in universities, work as prison chaplains or minister to drug addicts in urban safehouses. Reed acknowledges that the numbers of active women religious are down to almost a third of what they were in the mid-1960s, and that their average age today is a superannuated 69. However, she doesn't allow these grim statistics to tell the entire story, introducing us to sisters so dedicated and fascinating that we become optimistic about the future of women religious. Reed, a non-Catholic, writes from the best tradition of investigative journalism, but she doesn't pretend to be unmoved by the stories of everyday heroism displayed by the women she describes, and chronicles her own spiritual journey throughout.