At twelve, Peyton McKenzie isn't ready to share her widowed father with anyone, let alone Nora, her redheaded, cigarette-smoking cousin who just rolled into town behind the wheel of a pink Thunderbird. But her father seems to like Nora, and she does make for good conversation with her friends at the Losers Club, and prim Aunt Augusta hates her, which means she can't be all bad. In fact, maybe Nora is just what quiet Lytton, Georgia, needs this summer.
And when Nora takes a job teaching the first integrated honors class at the local high school, it looks like she might stay forever. But it becomes clear that something is troubling her. Peyton knows it's more than the local gossips who don't like Nora's unsouthern ways. When the shocking truth comes to light, it will stun this small segregated town and, more importantly, teach Peyton a lesson she will never forget about love and its enormous cost.