Jeannette is the narrator of her memoir, telling her story from age three into adulthood. As a child she is adventurous, wild-hearted, and Dad's favorite. Jeannette, a middle sibling, is closer to younger brother Brian than her older sister Lori: Brian shares Jeannette's love of the outdoors, while Lori is more a bookworm. As Jeannette matures, her feelings toward Dad and Mom change. She resents Dad's drinking and how he constantly lets her and the rest of the family down yet never openly admits it or allows his flaws to be discussed. Jeannette also resents Mom's refusal to hold down a job long enough to provide her kids with a stable food supply. These resentments make her more and more willful and independent. Eventually she scrapes together enough money to build the life she dreams of: the life of a successful reporter; however, she is haunted by her past and is at times uncomfortable with her transition from poverty into the upper-middle class.