Shattemuc, New York, during the Depression: a wide swathe of crude social history, a pile-up of incidents, a ten-year-old cipher narrating--from no convincing child's-point-of-view. That ten-year-old is Katie Donovan, whose dad works at the mill owned by best friend Betty Lou Featherstone's father--for most of the book, the prototype of smug, callous entrepreneurship. Katie's mother covets membership in the Garden Club, dominated by Mrs. Featherstone--for most of the book, the prototype of small-town snobbery and bigotry. Mrs. Donovan's best friend is Mrs. Romano--even more disdained, as Italian, than the Irish Donovans, though her husband is a doctor (a better doctor, of course, than the local WASP practitioner). In a welter of abrupt happenings, the Featherstones' older daughter marries the (law-student) son of the candy-store proprietor, and is cast out; one of Mr. Donovan's buddies is let go, and reduced to raking leaves and such in the park given to the town by Mr. Featherstone; and Mr. Donovan is laid off too, and reduced to the same straits. Then comes the turnaround. First, the Featherstones' maid Heavenly Peace (she'd ""joined Father Divine's followers so she'd get free chicken dinners"") is unfairly fired, and Katie successfully pleads her cause. The big break, though, is an injury to the Featherstones' son, who has a rare blood type; Mr. Donovan selflessly donates blood and Mr. Featherstone repents and reforms. Old-time soap operatics recast as social realism.