Set in Florida primarily in the 1915-1920 time frame, young Midgie’s mother needs hospitalization and treatment for the after effects of the Spanish flu.
Midgie’s father, a railroad telegrapher living in a small town south of Ocala, must make hard choices regarding how to care for his two children while his wife is being treated. He must work a 12-hour shift, seven days a week. Eventually, he is forced to move the family to Jacksonville, Florida, into an historic neighborhood called Springfield, just north of the city’s downtown.
Just as Midgie begins to make new friends in the multi-ethnic neighborhood, her father determines that he no choice, he must send Midgie and her brother, Henry, to stay temporarily with relatives—Henry back down to Ocala, Midgie to relatives living in Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.
After a horrible experience with the Alabama relatives, Midgie is sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee and then to Hartsville, South Carolina.
During these extended visits, Midgie learns many important lessons about life and how to cope with disappointment and disruptions in her life. When she returns to Springfield, she is able to put her new understanding to good use with her friends.