Prodigal daughter, Janet, returns in 1987 from a commune in the Michigan woods to the hated suburban Illinois town where she grew up, in order to care for her dying mother. When, after her mother dies, she is accused of stealing her wealthy mother's valuable art objects, she is forced to remain in town while an investigation takes place. To save herself from boredom, she volunteers at a social agency. There she becomes involved with six desperate children, whose father abuses them and perhaps murdered their mothers. Suddenly she finds herself surrounded by wise and helpful people: social work colleagues, a cousin on an Iowa farm, a Protective Service worker, a socialite neighbor, her mother's housekeeper, even the man she left behind on her Michigan commune. The healing of the children's lives coincides with the healing of Janet's damaged personality, and the blossoming of love in her life. This fast moving narrative, told in Janet's brisk and observant voice, is shaped by influence of the Viet Nam era, and chronicles the restorative power of love.