Valerie O'Connor comes from a large, close- knit, working class family in Vermont. At the age of eighteen, she marries twenty-five-year-old Jack Marsh. He is a handsome, dashing Korean War veteran, but he is also a damaged man who cannot keep himself from taking his fears and insecurities out on his wife and his five children. To make matters worse, Jack takes Valerie away from her family, and all the way across the country, isolating her from the very people who know her and care about her the most. Too proud to ask for help or admit her failure as a wife and mother, Valerie is unable to protect either herself or the children. One by one, pushed to the extreme, the children escape, in one fashion or another, until they are all gone, even Ricky, the youngest and perhaps the most troubled, and there is only Jack left, and Valerie must face the reality of her marriage and her life. And then, as if out of the ashes, another generation begins. Will history repeat itself? The answer is a message for us all.