Dave Aberdeen, a Marine home on leave from Afghanistan for his mother's funeral, has been through hell, but the hell he will face at home is greater than what he has faced in war.Amber Rye, Dave's girlfriend, feels trapped by small town life in Pine Grove, North Carolina. Struggling with a pious mother, an alcoholic stepfather, and a terrible secret that could jeopardize her relationship with Dave, she tries to navigate through the troubled waters of her life as it seems to unravel before her.Through the course of one week, Dave and Amber face a struggle that will define their lives and require heroic courage to pull through. Set in the fictional town of Pine Grove, North Carolina, a small one-stoplight farming town, the main characters Dave and Amber are a young couple. Dave is 19 years old and an infantry Marine who graduated high school the year before. Stationed in a particularly violent area of Afghanistan, he finds himself dealing with the horrors of war when he returns home for his mother's funeral who has just died after a battle with breast cancer. Amber is 16 years old, and she's dealing with her own struggles, struggles that come to a head during the week Dave is home. She sees Dave as her only hope of ever getting out of town and away from her problems at school and at home, but something has happened that will jeopardize their relationship if he finds out. The novel also explores Teresa, Amber's mother. A recovering alcoholic, she's married to Joe Craig, a man she met in AA meetings a few years ago. Joe helped her to quit drinking and together, they began going to Church. They married soon after. Joe, however, lost his job months ago and hasn't been able to find anything else. Supported by Teresa's waitressing job, the small family is financially barely able to hold their heads up. Depressed and feeling beaten, Joe turns back to drinking. Teresa refuses to leave her husband because he stayed with her throughout her ordeals, but the stress of work and of raising a defiant teenager are getting to her more and more every day.The story of these characters and others in this novel develop a novel for the times. Economic hardships, war, and broken families abound in this Southern tragedy.