Charlotte Murphy—trusting wife, loving mother, and dedicated teacher—comes to suspect that her wealthy, arrogant husband of eighteen years has been cheating on her and that the principal of the inner-city vocational high school where she teaches English has been changing answers on state-mandated standardized tests. Seeing their teacher’s unhappiness, her students convince her to let them give her a movie-star makeover. When they’re done, Charlotte doesn’t recognize herself and vows to change her life. Charlotte's new life is further complicated by the unwelcome attention of Theo Lagakis, the school’s dean, who has a hidden agenda. Whom can she trust?
Charlotte’s story is enhanced by the poetry she loves to teach, as well as with first-person commentary from her student and close observer, Valerie Martin. Valerie, a serious student, faces not being able to graduate from high school, due to the allegedly forged scores.