Sophie is 14 years old, and she doesn't know the world. She knows rules, her mother's rules, which include not leaving the house, staying in, learning, reading, and moving cities any time she feels like the No Good is catching up with them. But now there are neighbors, two ladies who love Willa Cather and cookies and their nephew, Joey, who is Sophie's age and who lives with them, and the three of them open up the world for Sophie.
Emmy is nearly a child herself when her baby, Baby, goes missing out of the swing in the yard, in the middle of the day. Emmy throws herself in front of a train and is rescued, but she breaks down and is sent away to an institution.
And I think you can guess just exactly what's going on, there. I loved Miss Cloris and Miss Helen, the relationship between them that changed and stretched to include Joey when he needed them. I loved the writing, too, the way Ms. Kephart twisted language to say things that can't be said in ordinary sentences. It so captures the vagaries of the mind, of our emotions. The fragmentation.
Having said that, though, as enchanted as I am with the writing, I was not at all enchanted by either of the two main characters. I was frustrated by Emmy, and I didn't identify with Sophie, and so the main part of the story didn't have me squirming or crying as it ought to have. I was much more upset by Helen's illness, to be honest.