Every family is unhappy in its own way. And the family of Claude Cheever - Cheevey, to his friends - is more unhappy than most. At age twenty, Cheevey lives in a house of ominous silence. Trapped in a passionless marriage, his parents barely talk. His older brother, tormented by old wounds, has removed himself to a world of drinking and brawling. And Cheevey's sister, married, with a young child, is trapped by her own anguished mind games. Only Cheevey seems to care that things aren't right - that no one connects anymore, that events seem to be spinning out of control. He tries hard to hold his family together, but when he meets Lauren, a young single mother, he suddenly must grapple with his own dilemmas of sex, love, and identity.