Set in the small town of Grenville, Ontario, a setting perhaps familiar to the reader from the author's previous novel Cadillac Road, this story progresses from the 1950s through the 1980s. In 1940, five-year-old Martin Thorton fell from the family's apartment balcony, suffering catastrophic and permanent injuries. His accident plays a role in everything that happens afterwards ? his marginalization growing up a disabled person, his mother's guilt and unfailing devotion, his sister's alienation. Told from the point of view of his sister Gretchen, and his friend Donna, this is Martin's story.