The child of ultra-conservative Baptist and racist parents who thought even The Partridge Family was immoral, Laura found herself confined to a strict Catholic boarding school when she dared to fall in love with a poor Cajun boy.
Deep in the throes of first love, aided by a sympathetic nun, the two young lovers kept up a correspondence and planned to marry after Laura graduated, while Tim joined the army and served in Vietnam. But while Tim was away, Laura began to enjoy life more and to take part in school activities. She began to write for the school newspaper and to socialize with other students and boys from the neighboring Catholic high school. Caught in a web of guilt and confusion she started to chafe at the idea of getting married right out of high school, feelings that were only heightened by Tim's letters from Vietnam, which grew increasingly bleak and depressing, claiming that the thought of his future life with Laura was the only light at the end of the tunnel for him. To her regret, Laura buckled under the weight of this pressure.
In her letter, Laura opens her heart and shows her daughter that she truly does understand what it is like to be young, and admits that though she always promised herself she would not treat her daughter as her mother treated her, she has, in some ways, failed to keep that promise.
Mr. Bishop's novel provides a very moving and realistic portrait of the angst of first love adolescence, and the hard lessons of love and growing up. He captures the feelings and voice of a mother looking back on her girlhood perfectly.