It is 1970 in a small town in California: 'Bean' Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, takes off to find herself, leaving the girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that has been in Charlotte's family for generations. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town. But when school starts in the fall, it is Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, while Liz becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz, and it's up to Bean to help her challenge the injustice of the adult world. -- From book jacket.