Nettle and Clara become close friends when Nettle and her twin Patty make a visit to Clara at her grandmother's farm--where Clara and her five sibs enjoy the weeklong absences of their sour, fault-finding dad. Back in the suburbs for school, the two are inseparable; Clara yearns for an orderly home like the twins', where no one yells and the parents join in the laughter at dinnertime. Then Nettle has a stroke, and--after a long coma--must relearn everything. During the agonizing waiting and the laborious road back, Clara grows in understanding of many things: Nettle loved the freedom of Clara's vibrant, disorderly family as much as Clara admired hers, for each family has strengths more important than its flaws; the friendship made gentle Patty a third wheel, but Clara and Patty are now building another sort of accord; there is real love behind Clara's dad's harsh faÃ‡ade. In loving detail (somewhat autobiographical, hint the acknowledgments; the setting is the late 50's), Wilson portrays the dynamics of both families, laying a fine foundation for the many revelations and changing balances set in motion by Nettie's catastrophic collapse. A wise and appealing story from an unusually perceptive new author.