At 18, Soledad couldn't get away fast enough from her contentious family with their endless tragedies and petty fights. Two years later, she's an art student at Cooper Union with a gallery job and a hip East Village walk-up. But when Tía Gorda calls with the news that Soledad's mother has lapsed into an emotional coma, she insists that Soledad's return is the only cure. Fighting the memories of open hydrants, leering men, and slick-skinned teen girls with raunchy mouths and snapping gum, Soledad moves home to West 164th Street. As she tries to tame her cousin Flaca's raucous behaviour and to resist falling for Richie - a soulful, intense man from the neighbourhood - she also faces the greatest challenge of her life: confronting the ghosts from her mother's past and salvaging their damaged relationship.