Lucia's father is dead, her mother is in a mental hospital, and she's living in a garage-turned-bedroom with her aunt. And now she's been kicked out of school - again. Making her way through the world with only a book, a Zippo lighter, a pocketful of stolen licorice, a biting wit, and the striking intelligence that she tries to hide, Lucia spends her days riding the bus to visit her mother and following the only rule that makes any sense to her: Don't do things you aren't proud of.
A man and a woman have moved into a small house in a small village. The woman is an "examiner", the man her "claimant". The examiner is both doctor and guide, charged with teaching the claimant a series of simple functions: This is a chair, this is a fork, this is how you meet people. She makes notes in her journal about his progress: He is showing improvement, yet his dreams are troubling.
"Comes up short on so many levels ..."