Betsy Kimmel's idyllic life is shattered when her mother dies in a car accident. Without her mom's income, Betsy must leave her private school and finish her freshman year in a large urban district. At her new school, Betsy encounters large classes, indifferent teachers, and finds herself the target of a treacherous bully. She also develops several interesting relationships with an array of quirky individuals, including a runaway foster girl and a handsome Russian exchange student. When Dad relieves his own grief with excessive drinking and a not-so-nice girlfriend, Betsy's home life begins to deteriorate. She eventually becomes the caregiver for her younger brother. After Dad blurts out in a drunken rage that her mom suffered from clinical depression and that the car accident might have been a suicide, Betsy begins to make dangerous choices of her own. When Dad finally hits bottom, Betsy's grandmother gains temporary custody and takes Betsy and her brother to live in a retirement community. After Dad is sober and the family is reunited, Betsy confronts the one year anniversary of her mother's death and ultimately finds out the truth about the accident.