With her mother in a nursing home, Sara Elliot has had to leave school and return to her family home in Chicago to bring up her younger sisters and brother. For years she puts aside her own dreams while trying to do her best as full-time mother. Then two men enter her life. Reuben, whom she might love . . . and Mack, the long vanished brother who suddenly lays claim to her family. But there are mysteries about Mack; his past, his present, the strange influence he has over the impressionable children, his own family ties, and what it is that he really wants from Sara. To find her way, and to shape her own future and the future of those around her, Sara must discover the full meaning of family, the depths of love in all its varieties, and what it means to be a real mother.