Jennifer Walker is barely twenty, homeless, and trying to care for a four-year-old and a six-month old on her own when desperation and lack of money cause her to leave her two girls in her car while she tries to steal food from a convenience store.
She gets caught.
Facing a year in jail and no more prospects when she gets out than she has now, she very reluctantly signs away her parental rights. She assumes they'll be placed together, but of course babies are far more adoptable than four-year-olds. Baby Natalie is quickly adopted, while four-year-old Brooke bounces from foster home to foster home.
We get the stories of Jennifer as she faces new traumas and tries to rebuild her life, married Natalie, and single Brooke in alternating chapters.
Each of the women has healing to do. Jennifer and Brooke in their different ways are dealing with the emotional fallout of what they each perceive as their rejection by their respective mothers, and in Jennifer's case, the guilt of having to give up her own daughters. Natalie knew she was adopted, but has only just learned that she has a sister.
It's an emotional roller coaster for all of them. Natalie wonders why her parents kept secrets like the existence of her sister from her. Brooke is about to face the challenge of whether she can be a good mother when she never had or knew one.
And Jennifer needs to deal with her guilt over giving up her children, as well as some of the other things she did along the way.
This is very much a character-based novel, and very effectively explores the emotions of all three women.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.