Henley's name is about all she has to hold onto as Patti, her whimsical and desperately unstable mother, hops frantically from place to place, not really dragging Henley along but rather dashing off so that Henley must hurry after, never sure that Patti will wait. In the course of the story Patti gives up her Baltimore job and apartment and takes Henley off to New York, where they move in with near-strangers who don't want them. But Patti's great expectations of fun and fulfillment are dashed after a day's unsuccessful job hunting, and it's back to Baltimore and a friend's apartment--which she leaves in a huff when her friend tries to talk sense to her. Then comes a desperate and destinationless auto trip that ends when the Volkswagen breaks down and Patti, because now ""the sky is falling,"" decides to take shelter with the legendary Aunt Mercy, an elderly doctor Patti has talked about and Henley has always hoped to visit. Despite Aunt Mercy's demented live-in charity case, and despite Henley's discovery that Aunt Mercy is not really Patti's aunt but just the aunt of a girlhood friend, Henley finds in the kindly doctor's old home and stereotypically sleepy Chesapeake Bay town just the stability she's always longed for. And so when Patti, inevitably, decides to move on, Henley says no, and stays. Unfortunately, the story suffers from the same problems that handicap Patti; there's much agitated motion but nothing beneath the surface, and no complexity or dimension to the characters.