The year is 1987. Rachel Martin is a bright, sensitive thirteen year old middle school student who feels that nothing will ever turn out right for her. Self-conscious about her looks, Rachel feels doomed to forever live in her beautiful seventeen year old sister's shadow. The one anchor in Rachel's life is her supportive father, but even he won't be able to protect her from the events that lie ahead.
School continues to be a bad joke, with a succession of pathetic substitutes...until an older woman with a dark and mysterious past comes to take over the seventh grade English class at John F. Kennedy Middle School... and from then on, nothing is ever quite the same.