Alice Fivey is seven years old when her father dies, and ten when her mentally fragile mother is institutionalized. So begins the “sleepover life” for Alice. Shuttled among the homes of wealthy relatives, retainers, babysitters, and reluctant caretakers, Alice must learn their habits and adapt if she is to survive. But how is she to remain intact after the loss of her parents, whose troubled pasts are invoked to punish and manipulate her? Books help, as do kindly teachers.