Alice feels alone, her mother is sick and won't come out of her room, and her sister Alice has run off. Twelve-year-old Alice carries the heavy load of a broken heart. Her mother Marian suffers from mental health challenges living in her bedroom to avoid the mishaps that befall one in life. Alice needs a mother she's an introvert who experiences her second brush with abandonment while her mother was under self imposed “room” arrest.
Her first brush with major disappointment was her older sister Nona leaving town and running off with Jerry. Nona's letters home are scarce in number and Alice misses her sister dearly.
Her work doubles on the farm when Nona leaves. Alice and her dad serve as mid wives to the horse they raise and train. She is obsessed with the unsolved killing of Polly a classmate from her wood shop class. Alice is also carrying on an inappropriate relationship with her English teacher. They talk on the phone nightly, just as Polly had.
Alice's dad pulled the little girl from the canal. In addition to his horse farm, he also works as a sheriff, and a school bus driver. Dad tires of is wife being unresponsive and doesn't have energy or empathy needed to get her help. He turns to one his horse boarders for attention and Patty Jo has no problem helping out financially with his or Alice's needs. An affair ensues and Alice chooses to ignore it. She enjoys eating at fine dining establishments and the slamming new wardrobe. Patty Jo finances it all.
Nona returns home with Jerry (they married on the road) the couple is under a lot of financial pressure and home was the only place Nona could think of despite that she left in the first place.
A horrible accident while Patty Jo is training breaks her face in several places. Her husband is a doctor so she stands a good chance of recovery. The accident brings about an abrupt end to the extra marital affair.
When Alice's dad catches Jerry trying to mount Alice on the horse Patty Jo was injured by he flips out and hits the horse with a walking cane severely injuring the animal. Jerry shoots it to put it out of misery. Nona can't take that Jerry has killed her horse and they split up.
Alice's English teacher suddenly moves away also abandoning her.
Patty Jo writes Alice a big check and Alice decides to travel with the money and while she ponders the idea of attending college after high school.
Best part of story, including ending:
I hated that Alice's dad cheated on his sickly wife.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Patty Jo got flipped from the horse I think it was karma for messing with a dying woman's husband.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that Alice stood up for herself.