In 1974, in rural Reedville, Arkansas, Deborah Yvonne Davis was a precocious 12 year old, black schoolgirl in love with life. Loving memories of Gram her late, beloved paternal grandmother, comforted and guided her. Then, her world changed. Deborah became pregnant. It was a time and place when such things brought shame and disgrace. What was worse, the unacknowledged father was 16 year old Jonathan Reed, son of the state's wealthiest and most powerful white family. Many suspected the truth but none dare speak of it.
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Three months later, Deborah's heartbroken preacher-father and mother whisked her away to her aunt Rose in Chicago. Their intent was to conceal their daughter's pregnancy and avoid confrontation and embarrassment. The Davises, with three more daughters and a son, lived on Reed family-owned land. And like most poor blacks in the region were dependent upon them for economic survival.
Two months following her birth, the baby, Samantha, was brought back to Reedville by Deborah's mother, while Deborah was left in Chicago. "Just for a little while," they said. Back in Reedville, the Davises explained the infant had been adopted. The whispers and sideways glances began, but no one said what all suspected.
Deborah-confused, frightened and embittered-was left with aunt Rose and uncle Jack. She felt abandoned and forgotten. For months, the only evidence of Samantha's existence, was a faded photograph, a hospital i.d. bracelet and an empty bassinet. Only when she stood naked, staring at her delivery scar in the full-length mirror did it all bear some resemblance to reality.
After struggling through deep emotional crisis, which included self-imposed silence and attempted suicide, Deborah struggled to fashion a new life. Feeling abandoned and disowned, she grew to hate her estranged family, refusing to even acknowledge their existence.
Fourteen years later, Deborah-a Northwestern University grad-had a new last name, a new life, was a successful author, and read by millions. However, her family knew nothing of her new life. She remained estranged from them and her daughter who had never been told the truth.
Upon learning her father was near death, she reluctantly returned to his deathbed and face to face with a past filled with lies, shame and denial. But the man she found suspended in a coma was not the tough, preacher she'd left years earlier. Still she was determined to lay claim to her life. To do so, she had to face her family: a brother whose hatred of whites was palpable; a younger sister who seemed to despise her from birth, and a mother still in denial.
Then, there was the inevitable confrontation with the powerful Reed family, and Jonathan Reed, now seeking a U.S. Senate seat and backed by then Governor, William J. Clinton. Soon after returning, Deborah discovered a dark, personal secret she had hidden from herself for more fourteen years.