Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels.
I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club", CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into 11th grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners,
When Dora, Elena's older sister, is diagnosed with depression and has to be admitted to the hospital, Elena can't seem to make sense of their lives anymore. At school, the only people who acknowledge Elena are Dora's friends and Jimmy Zenk, who failed at least one grade and wears black every day of the week. And at home, Elena's parents keep arguing with each other. Elena will do anything to help her sister get better and get their lives back to normal, even when the responsibility becomes too much to bear.