Two filmmakers from New York City come to Welch for a cultural growth project in Appalachia, and Jeannette and Lori are delighted by these city men's artistic sensibilities. The filmmakers tell Lori she has talent and suggest she move to New York City if she is serious about being an artist. Jeannette tells Lori about her escape fund, and the sisters decide that Lori will move to New York City after she graduates from high school. Jeannette will follow in a year. The two of them and Brian pool all the money they get from various odd jobs and store it in a piggy bank that they name Oz.
Spring approaches and Brian and Jeannette start counting down to Lori's big departure. Lori is nervous about the move because she does not have a clear sense of what to do when she gets to New York. Jeannette suggests finding a job first, and then going to art school after she saves some money. However, all these plans get ruined when Dad steals all the cash from Oz. Lori confronts Dad when he returns from a three-day binge, and Dad does not admit his act of thievery.
Shortly thereafter, one of Jeannette's babysitting clients invites her to come with her family to Iowa for the summer in exchange for two hundred dollars and a bus ticket back to Welch. Jeannette suggests the family takes Lori instead and to send her to New York instead of Welch. Thus, Lori manages to escape and begin her new life after all.
Through allusions to Oz and the Emerald City, Walls conveys Jeannette and Lori's hope for and fears about a new life as they pool their money over the course of Lori's senior year of high school. First, by referring to New York City as the Emerald City, Walls conveys the various hopes the girls have about their plan. In The Wizard of Oz, the Emerald City is Dorothy's only hope for returning home; by using this comparison, Walls suggests that New York is not only the means but the end: Getting to this "Emerald City" is finally finding a home that is free of the challenges and hardships that Lori and Jeannette currently face at the home with their parents.
Secondly, by naming the piggy bank Oz, Walls shows how the girls, while hopeful, are also incredulous in many ways. In The Wizard of Oz, Oz is a strange, magical land that in the end turns out to be only a dream. By naming the piggy bank Oz, the girls are able to express their fear that New York City will always be an unattainable dream — as is nearly confirmed by their Dad's raiding of "Oz." However, through a bit of luck, Lori manages to obtain her dream and escape to the "Emerald City." This allusion, however, also foreshadows difficulty for Lori, much as Dorothy faced challenges both on her way to and upon entering the Emerald City.