Charting the near-destruction of a child's soul at the hands of the self-centered, bickering adults around her, Nolan (Send Me Down a Miracle, 1996, etc.) dives into the mind of an emotionally disturbed girl in an intense, exceptionally well-written novel. Miracle McCloy grows from a lonely ten-year-old--raised by her well-meaning, clairvoyant, but steeped-in-denial grandmother--to a silent and troubled teen. Her mother's death and father's abandonment make Miracle feel that she doesn't exist, so she floats through life as a nonentity, a bystander. At 14, she has a breakdown and severely burns herself. Institutionalized, with the help of a kindly doctor and heroic Aunt Casey, Miracle is forced to confront her family's secrets and uncover the truth about herself. While the characters initially seem like stereotypical Southern eccentrics, Nolan skillfully discloses their true natures, allowing them to blossom on the page. The book ends on a note of hope, as Miracle takes steps toward contentment and begins to participate fully in her own life. The shadows of truth, suffering, self-expression, and repression are examined without psychobabble in this sad, funny, and tender story.