Bo Groden looks back on the summer when she was eleven years old and everything changed. This is the summer when Charley, her father, spiraled into depression. Usually able to build and fix anything, he is unable to fix himself. Bo amuses herself by writing letters for free samples and praying for a miracle to deliver her from a mother who gardens in the nude and a father who cannot stop weeping. The miracle arrives in the form of William Gibbs, a displaced IRS agent who arrives in a fever and never leaves. As the artist within William emerges, each member of the family is deeply affected and ultimately changed forever.