Short stories about families in turmoil and children in peril, from a homeless mother forced to put her son in foster care to a suburban mother afraid of passing her water phobia to her son. Braxton, North Carolina is the where in these stories, an imaginary coastal town adjacent to Camp Corregidor, a stopover for recruits on their way to Vietnam and later to Iraq. Braxton is the home front, where citizens battle alcoholism, marital breakups, and scandal. In Braxton, when a sister or father does wrong, the whole family shares the blame. Even Braxton's babysitters are dangerous, snooping, stealing secrets - and husbands. But love abounds. Sisters driven apart by scandal reunite when their father remarries. The babysitter who ran off with the mayor is welcomed back into her family when she returns to Braxton pregnant. A woman on the verge of being committed to an asylum for alcoholism is pulled back from the brink by a devoted friend.