Ollie, born of Irish and Cherokee ancestry, is a middle child struggling to compete with an older sister and brother, yet showing unusual compassion for younger siblings. Accepting premonitions as guidance given by guardian angels, she displays wit and insight, yet sometimes incurs trouble when a stubborn nature overrules intuition.
The book begins with Ollie trying to get home after receiving a head injury in an attack by two boys'the same boys that she thinks raped her friend and murdered a girl in a nearby community. She remains in a coma for five days. While comatose, she recalls dramatic events of her first fifteen years'occasions that reflect the life of a gutsy girl. They include the death of a young friend, strangers that steal a gun, drunks chasing a man of black Indian descent, a strange lizard, a starving family, infection in a girl's foot, robbers at the wagon yard, stray dogs that save Ollie from panthers, Gypsies, a fight, remembering the Great War, an ungrateful tramp, a dying aunt, a rabbit hunt in the snow, a pie supper, a trip to a carnival, a promissory note, rape and murder of a young girl, and secrets shared with her best friend.
Ollie meets a young man and wavers between love and pursuing her dream of nursing. She chooses Roy and they begin repairing a two room sharecropper house where they will live and farm surrounding acres. Ollie has her first encounter with neighboring thieves when they attempt to steal her engagement ring, cook stove, and horse. Capable with the pistol she is wearing, Ollie reclaims her property and forces them to leave.
I took a few breaths and looked out over the front hood of the vehicle, down the ravine and up the other side. No indication of movement anywhere. The SUV looked okay from what I could see. I turned away from the vehicle, maybe to head back, maybe to look around. I did neither immediately. I gasped. There just fifteen feet from where I was standing sat Rick Jimenez, the other reporter, as he had described himself that morning, for the town's newspaper. His face was contorted and covered with dried blood. His white shirt completely soaked in blood now drying in the hot sun. He was dead.
Ollie believes in premonitions sent by guardian angels, but has no warning of hardships to come with drought and The Great Depression.
Roy and Ollie start married life striving for a better future and a place of their own. Each chapter is an episode that illustrates different difficulties imposed by farm life.
Almost every year, Roy goes away to other states working to earn money to pay the mortgage on a home they buy. Ollie stays on the farm to harvest crops and care for the children. She struggles against wild animals, foraging pigs, sickness, storms, hunger, and neighbors that prowl night and day stealing everything they can including diapers, garden vegetables, harness, and cottonseed.
Ollie offers thanks for blessings she receives, giving credit to guardian angels for helping, but berates herself when she discounts premonitions of impending danger.