A grown daughter looks back at the marriage dance between her handsome, narcissistic father and her enabling mother to understand the forces that shaped her character and those of her six siblings.
While recalling events, both nostalgic and traumatic, she comes to appreciate the influence of Appalachian culture and longitudinal family history on the Meek tribe.
During the twenty years covered by Jewel's story, the family and the region move from nineteenth century isolation to twentieth century complexity. Like the relentless river that flows prominently through Jewel's story, the economy propels most of the characters out of their mountains. Except for her mom, who stands like a rock amid the swirling waters of change. Without her example, the Meek children might have become dysfunctional individuals; instead they develop resilience.
This tribute to a mother's power flows like a river through time and memory.