"A girl comes of age against the knife". So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a white mother and a Cherokee father, Betty inhabits a world of poverty and loss, of lush landscapes and blazing stars. Despite the hardships she encounters, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters and her father's brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all to which she bears witness - the horrors of her family's past and present - Betty discovers an escape : she begins to write.