Thirteen days. That's all Bernadette "Bird" Sincavage has left to go until she's done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother, who's constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she's plunked down a deposit on a brand-new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it.
Best friends Agnes and Honey live at Mount Blessing, a religious commune. Though the girls have been best friends since they were children, differences in faith are beginning to to trouble their relationship. Agnes is striving to be saintly. Honey is desperate to escape the commune and experience the outside world. The commune itself, headed by the charismatic Emmanuel, is orderly, well run. But it’s hiding a dark secret....
Twelve-year-old May is living in a desolate situation with only her grandmother, who is depressed about the absence of May’s mother, and her father, who works long hours and is almost never around. Due to her circumstance and her resentment over having to live in a low-income neighborhood, May often finds herself picking fights and getting into trouble. But when May is caught graffiti-ing her least favorite teacher’s classroom, she is faced with a choice: expulsion or one-on-one summer school with the teacher she most detests.
Julia just graduated as her high school valedictorian, has a full ride to college in the fall and a coveted summer internship clerking for a federal judge. But when her older sister, Sophie, shows up at the graduation determined to reveal some long-buried secrets, Julia's carefully constructed plans come to a halt. Instead of the summer she had painstakingly laid out, Julia follows Sophie back to Vermont, where Sophie is opening a bakery - and struggling with some secrets of her own.
There's nothing 10-year-old Lily Sinclair likes about her new life in the city with her single mom. She misses her best friend, who seems to have forgotten her and their secret place, Willowood. She never sees her mom, who's working long hours at her new job. She's managed to make an enemy of the class bully. Mrs. Hiller from across the hall, who takes care of Lily after school, keeps preparing yucky healthy snacks for her. And she can't get her mother to tell her anything about her absent father. Her only source of comfort is her beloved pet gecko, Weemis.
When 12-year-old Hershey must run away with her mother to a women's shelter, she wonders how, among other things, she'll compete in the town talent show with her best friend, Phoebe; who will take care of her cat, Augustus Gloop; and if she'll survive being on a new bus route with her sworn enemy.