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While the rest of the world anticipates a victorious end to the Second World War, sixteen-year-old Sheila Brary finds life in a remote British Columbia outport suffocating and isolating. A household full of brothers, a philandering father and, most of all, Sheila's embittered mother all stand in the way of a bright, beautiful teenager with ambitions and dreams -- to continue her schooling and become a nurse.
The mother-daughter relationship that lies at the heart of this haunting novel is both timeless and complex, and the two strong, rebellious women are more alike than they care to admit. One has succumbed to the demands of a sexist age with resentment, while the other struggles to break away. In the end, Sheila defies her mother by pursuing a romance with Nels, a handsome local carpenter. But when she becomes pregnant, she turns to her father for help, with devastating results.