Gloria Norris grew up in the projects of Manchester, New Hampshire, with her parents; her sister, Virginia; and her cat, Sylvester. A snapshot might show a happy young family, but only a dummkopf would buy that. Nine-year-old Gloria is gutsy and wisecracking. Her father, Jimmy, all dazzle and danger, is often on the far side of the law and makes his own rules - which everyone else better follow. Gloria's mom, Shirley, tries not to rock the boat, Virginia unwisely defies Jimmy, and Gloria fashions herself into his sidekick - the son he never had.