Fearing that her mother’s public fight against teaching creation science will crush her high school popularity, Phoebe struggles for independence through romance. Triggering unforeseen violence and threats of death between jealous boyfriends, Paul and Victor, she faces the stark costs they pay for survival. Forced to understand the conflicts between inheritance from parents and self-realization, Phoebe accepts painful complexities of life’s essential building block: love.
Striking an uneasy alliance with her sister, Kate, Lou plans a trip to take their widowed and cantankerous mother, Vivian, for a beach weekend. Lou includes a social worker friend to assess Vivian’s physical and psychological needs. Ever fractious, Vivian resists all help, threatening to leave by cab. Lou awakes at midnight to shouts from her son, Johnny, who arrives fleeing a job calamity and stumbles across Vivian on the beach. Stretched between her mother’s health emergency and Johnny’s struggles, Lou grasps for knots of love to keep Vivian alive and tie the troubled family together.