Meet Adeline Claiborne. Since childhood she has been the self-imposed matriarch of her three siblings whom she ruled over with sadistic brutality. Adeline suffers from a psychosis which was exacerbated by drug and alcohol addiction. The gist of the story is set in San Jose, California. Adelines sister, Rachel lost her husband to an untimely death. She is so crippled with grief that she has become dysfunctional to the point where she was in danger of losing her son, Dale to the authorities. When Adeline got work of this, she was staying in Los Angeles, surviving by exploiting anyone she could leach off of. Learning the news of Rachels plight Adeline was on her doorstep with her son, Abbie in tow. She moved in with Rachel under the pretext of helping her to get her life back in order. What was supposed to be a temporary arrangement grew into twenty years of beatings and sexual exploitation. And their sons got the worse of it. Abbie, afflicted with FAS and a severe speech impediment suffered a nervous breakdown as a teenager. Dale was a frail little boy who was the target of every schoolyard bully. Brad, Adelines brother did what he could in a futile attempt to bring some kind of normality to the family only made matters worse. Eventually Rachel was afflicted with cancer. It was then when she finally mustered the courage to stand up to Rachel and deal with her. This is a family saga that takes you from the Haight-Ashbury era to the 1990s. The story continues describing the characters who survived, who overcame, and who succumbed.