When Addy Shadd was a young girl living in Rusholme, she was taught the history of her town, which was settled by fugitive slaves in the 1800s. It was told to her like a storybook legend - and although Addy is forced to leave her beloved home as a teenager, the place will call to her for the rest of her life. She thinks of it as a commandment: "Rush home, Addy Shadd. Thou shalt rush home." But the stories and memories of Addy's past have been buried deep in her 70-year-old heart - memories that are by turns dark and poignant, erotic and mysterious.
When five-year-old Sharla Cody is abandoned on Addy's trailer-park doorstep, the old woman doesn't know if she is up to the task of mothering the willful, curious child. But she takes the little girl into her home, and Sharla opens a door to Addy's past - to memories of the strawberry fields, the church graveyard, and the tender crust of her Mama Laisa's apple pies. The past returns to Addy Shadd, and as she sits in her trailer she can close her eyes and "see the county farms and city streets and recall each season of death and rebirth." Somehow, Sharla Cody helps Addy make sense of her long and hard life so she can find forgiveness - and finally make the journey home again.