Ivy MacKenzie, at seventeen, spends most of her time hanging out at Rivertown Billiards, the local pool hall that her dead father, a Vietnam veteran,also loved. Her swaggering bravado hides her inner insecurity; she’s bound and determined to go her own way, to see the world, even if that means running off to Florida with Gil Thompson, an abusive stranger she meets playing pool, who shows her a way out.
Fifteen-year-old Bryan and their mother, Carol, carry on at home with the support of Neal Richards, a high school shop teacher who becomes part of the family. The only news of Ivy comes in the form of cryptic postcards until she shows up back home, ashamed and disillusioned. She needs her family to save her from herself and the violent man who says he loves her, if only she could admit it.