The main character, Mike Noonan, is a Novelist living in Derry, Maine who suffers from writer's block after the death of his wife, Johanna nicknamed in the book as jo, she dies from a car accident, doctor said she would have died soon anyways from an undiagnosed brain aneurism. Johanna was pregnant, but never told him. Mike becomes dull after his wife's death, and is unable to write due to panic attacks. Fortunately, he has unpublished books, that he had made years before, and had them in case of an emergency. Mike used them to keep this agent and editor unaware of his problem.
Years after Jo's death, Mike begins to have nightmares in his his summer house, where he wanted to vacation and clear his mind. He decides to confront his fears and move to the house. Mike tries to discover if his On his way to town, Mike encounters a small child, Kyra Devore, walking down the middle of the road. Mike worries that something might happen to her, and takes away from the middle of the street, and stays on the sidewalk. A moment later, Kyra's mother, comes in her jeep and thanks mike for saving her daughter, Mike’s initial thoughts about Mattie were that’s she looked like white trash.. he was surprised when she gripped Kyra hard and told her not to run off ever again. The two talk for a few minutes and Mattie drives off.
Later that day, while in town, Mike learns from the locals that Mattie's late husband, Lance, was the son of Max Devore, a rich and influential man from the town who didn't approve of his son's marriage to Mattie. Max, now very old and in a wheelchair, wants custody of his granddaughter, and is using his money and influence to paint Mattie as an irresponsible mother. Through his caretaker, Bill, Mike learns of Mattie's past and her marriage.
When Max finds out that Mike ran into Mattie and Kyra, he threatens him through the phone. Despite all the threat she received. Mike hires John Storrow, a custody lawyer, for...