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Mary Ellen seems like a girl who comes from a normal family. She has a mother and father and little sisters. She has dreams for the future. Yet, her childhood is different in a secret, horrible way. Her father can be a warm, comforting presence when he’s in a good mood, but when he’s in a bad mood, he becomes a monster who abuses her.

She fantasizes about a future with a quiet, peaceful apartment of her own and even a husband. She researches and finds out that what her father does is a sign of illness. Knowing that her father is sick, she struggles to keep her family together yet find a way to escape his abuse.

As she grows up, she does indeed fulfill her dreams and finds a man to love her—but how much of her past can she share? She goes into therapy, but again, the guilt over her father’s actions and leaving her mother and sisters feels impossible to overcome.

Through her struggle to survive, Mary Ellen fights bravely to move beyond the past and find personal happiness in a life all her own, despite an abusive beginning.