Narrator Georgia Tate is 12 years old when her father resurfaces with a brittle new wife, demanding that his daughter spend time with him. He sexually molests her. Once Georgia's maternal grandmother (and guardian) brings her home again, the girl's best friend unleashes a secret: Georgia's mother isn't dead, she disappeared soon after trying to kill herself, following Georgia's birth. Georgia confronts her beloved Nana with this information but before they can resolve things, Nana drops dead in the Mississippi heat after mowing the lawn. Over Georgia's protests, Granddaddy Tate, who doesn't know about the abuse, sends the girl back to Florida to live with her father. The man makes his daughter dress trashy and ultimately rapes her. When Georgia is attacked by some boys and arrives home bloodied, a big-hearted transvestite neighbor takes her in and the details of her summer from hell pour out. Granddaddy sends her bus money but has a near-fatal car accident on his way to pick her up from the bus station. There is some fine writing in this first novel-the portrait of Granddaddy is particularly well-drawn, and Georgia experiences moments of kindness-but the implausible tsunami of tragic events overwhelms everything else. Ages 14-up.