The story involves Rose Chismore's youth. She flashes back and remembers her coming-of-age. Her recollections are sometimes less than sweet, particularly those of her troubled and alcoholic stepfather. Her memories of Robin, her first love, are much happier, and she also recalls her colorful Aunt Starr, whose visit is fun, but also detrimental to her family's health. The setting of 1950s Nevada bomb testing is increasingly significant to the development of the story.