For twenty-seven years Lucinda Hunter, daughter of the acclaimed film star Lily Hunter, has been a virtual recluse. Alone in the Connecticut farmhouse that was once her mothers's, Lucinda's life has become a small thing. Everything she wants or needs can be purchased online, and her only trips to the outside world are to the library or to the post office. It sometimes takes her days before she has sufficient courage to venture past her front door, and even these excursions are sufficiently traumatic to induce blinding migraine headaches.
Then, one hot morning in July, as she sits at her computer near the living-room window, a motion in the garden catches her eye. When she turns to look out, she is certain she must be hallucinating -- for out there, admiring the overgrown flower beds, is a little girl in shorts and a T-shirt, her bare feet in outsize sneakers.
She can't be real, Lucinda tells herself. But when she looks again, the little girl beckons to her to come outside. Bemused, curious, Lucinda gets up and goes outdoors to make the acquaintance of charmingly precocious nine-year-old Katanya Taylor who has, courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund, come from Harlem to spend two weeks with a host family.
Taken with the girl's sweet-natured intelligence and generosity of spirit, Lucinda gradually, painfully finds herself drawn back into the world she left after her mother's death. Through Katanya, Lucinda reexamines her past, and gets answers to the questions that kept her locked inside herself and inside her mother's house for more than half her life.