Janis Murphy and Rick Ross are in the midst of dealing with their corroded marriage when their middle child, Kit, tries to kill herself. The story begins in the weeks after the attempt, as Janis, Rick, older brother Patrick, and younger sister Lindsay, welcome Kit home. Unsure of her place within that home, Kit frequently decamps to visit that new neighbor, Veronica Finnegan. Both Kit and Lindsay attach themselves to the nomadic Veronica, who, somewhat to her own surprise, finds herself attached to them. Janis, however, is suspicious of this neighbor and the hold she has on her children, especially when some of Veronica’s revelations about her own life threaten to undo Kit’s already-unsteady sense of self.
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Spiros, a student of history, returns to the past to solve the mystery of exactly how Alexander the Great died. He finds an old man who tells him the story of an alien encounter that changed the great Alexander's life forever.
The story takes place over eight months, and unfolds almost entirely in and between the two households. What begins as a casual exchange in the backyard develops into a deep relationship between the well-traveled woman and the withdrawn teen, and with her excitable younger sister, as well. These unusual friendships alternately draw the curiosity and the wrath of Janis, and she and Veronica develop their own, wary, relationship, a relationship which changes dramatically over the course of the novel.