While her father and her famous TV host mother (Ruth Reid) begin divorce proceedings, Patricia stays with relatives at the lake near Edmonton, Alberta, where Ruth's family has always vacationed. Ostracized by her cousins (who don't know why she's so withdrawn), Patricia discovers a gold watch that transports her to the summer when her mother Ruth was her own age, 12. Ruth is a thunderously rebellious, solitary child, and with reason: her parents indulge her older brothers in every prank, but sternly punish Ruth--girls must be ladylike and plan only for a good husband. Patricia, invisible, yearns with sympathy. Then the watch breaks, so that she must stay in the present, which has meanwhile become pleasanter as she makes friends with the cousins; and the adult Ruth, cold, rational and efficient, arrives with a dilemma: which parent does Patricia wish to live with next year? Pearson has artfully used present and past for both contrast and parallel: Patricia muses that in reaction against her own upbringing, Ruth ""always left important questions up to [Patricia], while the trivial ones. . .were controlled by her mother [in inadvertent emulation of her own rigid parents]. It would be so much easier the other way around."" When Patricia finally breaks down and tells her mother how difficult this is for her, it precipitates their first honest, loving communication--and possibly a reconciliation with Ruth's disagreeable mother. With Pearson's leisurely pace, there's plenty of time to get to know her large, carefully drawn cast; their deftly designed drama neatly uses each character to bring the story to a believable, satisfying conclusion.