The Lisbons are a Catholic family living in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the 1970s. The father, Ronald, is a math teacher at a private school and the mother is a homemaker. The family has five daughters: 13-year-old Cecilia, 14-year-old Lux, 15-year-old Bonnie, 16-year-old Mary, and 17-year-old Therese. Their lives change dramatically within one summer when Cecilia, a stoic and astute girl described as an "outsider", attempts suicide by cutting her wrists. A few weeks later, the girls throw a chaperoned party, during which Cecilia jumps from their second story window and dies, impaled by a fence post.