Abra, an intellectually gifted woman from a family with mentally retarded parents and siblings, is the family caretaker until she goes away to college severing all family ties. Her high school teacher helps her find a small college far from home where she begins to weave a fictitous life as an orphan. She becomes a successful psychologist and creates an independent life that she likes. Sixteen years after leaving home, she learns that her sister died. She decides to share her family secrets with her friends and colleagues as the starting point on her quest to understand why she abandoned her family. She falls is love with Adam, her high school teachers nephew, who helps her cope with her view that she has "dirty genes" which should never be passed on.