The story follow Tassie, an inexperienced college student from the midwest, who becomes a nanny for a couple who adopts a biracial child named Mary but this is the midwest after 09/11. Racial and class narrow-mindedness is very much the norm in the small town. Tessie though is blind to it and engages in an almost obsessive but brief love affair with a Brazilian student. Tessie becomes captivated with her urbane employers. Sarah the wife and mother is extremely energetic but callous and Eric the husband and father has a mysterious philandering air about him. They are very deficient parents causing Tassie to assume the responsibility of being Mary's main caregive/parental figure.
A Tassie gets caught up deeper in the Thornwood's her life starts to unravel her grades drop and the people who are closest to her are not who she thinks they are. She discovers her boyfriend is a facist and her employers harbor a sinister secret that threatens to fracture the relationship between Tassie and Mary.
The first hundred pages or so ramble on before the the conflicts become evident. Even after the tragedies emerge the story trudges through extensive, excessively descriptive scenes. The story muddles too many tragedies together creating a time consuming mash up.
The book is a tale of the love between the nanny and her charge. I am pretty certain that I would not run to buy another of Lorrie Moore's books but this one rates three stars.