The story also revolves around family issues. In a series of flashbacks, Rose recalls her mother's bouts of manic depression and much of the first half of the novel is focused on Rose's understanding of and coping with her mother's periods of illness. These sections also highlight Rose and Jessie's exploration of sexuality, which is tested during Jessie's wild acting out in response to her father's sexual abuse. In the end, with the support of friends and the hard lessons born from life's challenges, Rose takes the risks to create a life she wants rather than the life she thinks she's "supposed to have."
Through her series of losses -- grandmother's death, a friend's imminent death, loss of her job, and a relationship breakup -- Rose is forced to look at her life and find the courage to create a future that is true to her real self and her heart. By doing so, her courage inspires all of us to go on as living, breathing human beings, trying to make the best of our circumstances.