Chapter 1 – The main character Emma has received an invitation in the mail for her parents’ 30 year wedding anniversary. Plenty of thoughts are running through her head as she discusses this party with her best friend Nicole and her brother Rob. Mainly, the fact
that her parents have been together this long is a mystery and is somewhat confusing to her and her relationships with her mother and father. She’s an adult now and has realized that she must come to terms with her childhood and she has questions that she needs answered so that she can go on with her own life.
Chapter 2 – It’s 1966 and the story starts with Emma’s mother, Joanne. Joanne is 18 and starting at a Teacher’s College where she meets her soon to be best and lifelong friend Rita. Rita and Joanne are total opposites. This chapter summarizes their 4 years in school… they become young women.
Chapter 3 – After completing school (it’s 1970) they both land jobs teaching at an elementary school in a small town. This chapter deals with them getting to know the town, finding a place to live, meeting some of the locals (who will show up later in the story) and touches on Joanne’s newfound feelings of independence and maturity.
Chapter 4 – Joanne and Rita meet their future husbands at a party one night. Joanne is drawn to a young guy named Griffin Bennett. Finn (as he is called in the story) is a smoker and a drinker and unlike anyone Joanne has ever known. Meanwhile, Rita gets together with his friend Steve. Soon Joanne and Finn are inseparable and although she is still pretty prim and proper she ends up pregnant after sleeping with Finn for the first time. They have a shotgun wedding and son, Robert, is born 5 months after the wedding. Daughter Emma comes 2 years later. Rita and Steve wed as well and daughter Nicole is born the same year as Emma. Finn takes a job as a carpenter and they settle into a small house. Joanne stays home with the kids. Things are very happy for awhile.
Chapter 5 – It’s Emma’s 5th birthday (1976) and Joanne has arranged a party. Finn is late and when he finally shows up he drinks quite a bit and acts like an ass. Meanwhile Rita tells Joanne that Steve has bought the company he works for and they are doing really well financially as opposed to Finn and Joanne who struggle. It is evident that things are not going too well but Joanne defends Finn and keeps hoping things/he will turn around. At the end of the chapter it is evident that the girls (Emma and Nicole) are going to witness a lot of the uneasiness/unhappiness that will unfold.