Leenie was abandoned by her mother as a baby and left with her grandparents at the Dew Drop Inn on Sawmill Swamp in the rural South. Sixteen years have passed, and grumpy Gramma has passed on; Leenie's mother comes home to visit. What sounds like yet another ""problem novel for teens"" is brought into focus through the setting: the slightly seedy motel and the shimmering swamp. Leenie realizes that her determination to hate her mother has been threatened by meeting her; she runs to the swamp in retreat and revenge to hide in a cabin that is her favorite shelter. Here she finds Axel, a photographer who has lost his boat. Leenie takes him to her favorite swamp places, and he shares his photographic zeal with her. As she finds herself drawn to him, she wonders about her own ability to love, realizing that if a kiss was ""sweet and easy"" for her, it must have been so for her mother, too. Things tie up a bit too tidily on her return, with Leenie's dad introduced and the possibility of Leenie seeing his children in the future, as well as a high-school buddy becoming a swain. Leenie's vision of the swamp stays with the reader.