The oldest child in a troubled Philadelphia family, Angel Ferente struggles to care for her three sisters while pursuing her goal of attending college on a swimming scholarship. She has a problematic relationship with her mother, Pic, who uses alcohol and drugs to self-medicate and at one point lost custody for a year, and an outright hostile relationship with her stepfather, the only father figure in her life. Angel is the center of stability in the household—making sure the younger girls get to school, ensuring that holidays are observed, doing the family’s laundry at her part-time job at a Laundromat, and even taking care of Pic when she is sick or depressed. It’s 1993, the midst of the crack epidemic, and Angel and her sisters are witness to the everyday events of life in a community beset by poverty and drugs: dealers on the corner, shoot-outs that kill bystanders, prostitutes on the job, and more.
Then Angel goes to a team party on New Year’s Eve—and doesn’t come home afterward. In the wake of her disappearance, her teammates, her coach’s church, and her family search the city for her. The result changes their lives forever.