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Growing up in a small Mississippi River town, Fannie Leary works at the local café, trying to hold her own in a world of slow expectations and hard boundaries. Dreaming that her cooking will be her ticket out of Persia, she cleaves to Mattie, the irrepressible black woman who runs the kitchen; to Will, the troubled, quiet boy she falls in love with; and eventually to Sheila Jones, a reclusive young girl who has returned with her mother from California to the town after her father's death. But when a young black boy suddenly disappears and the town erupts in violence, she is the only one who can piece their story together. What she uncovers is as unexpected as it is heartbreaking.

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