When Ashley Brown was five years old, her parents left her in the care of her grandma, though her mother promised to return for her. At 14, Ashley is still living with her grandmother in Highland, a city on the outskirts of Maryville, a place known as the "ghetto". Ashley has shadowy memories of her mother taking her to her favorite place, the library. Reading a good book allows Ashley to escape her poverty-and-crime-infested community. One afternoon after listening to the Mayor's press conference, Ashley discovers that the Mayor is taking away the community library.