On the last day of eighth grade, Maggie begins to dream of finding a way to escape the drudgery and confinement of life in the hollow and establish her independence. Her plan begins to fall in place when she enters high school and discovers she has a natural talent for excelling in shorthand, typing, and other business classes. Meanwhile she spares no effort in helping her family continue to survive despite their poverty, a less than fertile few acres, and a family history of instability.
The typical spoken language, folkways, traditional beliefs, and religious practices are skillfully woven into this portrait of Appalachian family life. The author's sympathetic insights into mountain culture combined with memorably etched characters and events create a realistic reflection of Tennessee mountain life during the decade following World War II.
Maggie's life takes an unexpected turn when her cousin JD reveals a dark secret that could shatter the family. Maggie struggles to maintain her dreams of a better life amidst the many trials that will test the grit of this Appalachian Daughter.