Ten-year-old Lori Jean believes that love can heal Ray, her abusive stepfather whose drunken rages have left Lori Jean and her mother beaten and bruised. Growing up impoverished in rural Georgia in the 1950s, Lori Jean survives abandonment by her biological father, as well as the deaths of her grandmother and her best friend, Carolee. Despite these tragedies, Lori Jean clings tenaciously to faith and hope. When she discovers that her stepfather was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, she struggles to "fix" Ray's problems, but unfortunately, his illness runs too deep. Told in southern dialect through the innocent eyes of a child, the first-person narrative effectively draws the reader into Lori Jean's world. Though the ending is a bit contrived, Miles' story proves haunting and even inspirational.