In the tiny Kansas town of Steadfast, a waitress named Annie leads an ordinary life with her husband Cal and daughter Avi. Annie has recently become a Christian, and Cal is none too happy about it. Her commitment to live by faith in Jesus causes a lot of friction in their marriage.
In a nearby town, a runaway named Jerod hides from his dad, finding a job washing dishes in a restaurant. His hard-working nature impresses the owner, Jinko, who offers Jerod some work on the side. What kind of work? Stealing valuables from people’s homes while they are dining in the restaurant. Jerod’s conscience bothers him at first, but the allure of easy cash is just too much to pass up.
This book starts out feeling like a cross between the movies “Stepford Wives” and “Pleasantville”. Eleven-year-old twin sisters Elodee and Naomi leave their hometown of Jupiter, and move with their parents to Eventown. There are no phones, televisions, or computers. They spend the first few days thinking they’re in paradise – no stress or conflict or unpleasantness. Everyone agrees with everyone else, acts the same, and is polite to a tee. The kids all love school! Something is definitely wrong in this town.
Alarm bells go off in Elodee’s mind when she visits the library and discovers that every book is blank. And what’s up with those mandatory interviews at the Welcoming Center? Her sister Naomi seems different after her interview. Elodee completes only half of her interview, at which time she figures out what is going on in Eventown.
The story is told by Landon Carter when he is 57 years old, recalling a time forty years earlier. It was the 1950s in the small town of Beaufort, North Carolina. Landon and his buddies would sneak out at night to get into mischief, and often pull pranks on folks around town. Although it was a very religious community, the local minister, Hegbert Sullivan, and his daughter Jamie were frequently subjects of their off-color jokes. Jamie dressed modestly, wore a plain brown sweater, always carried her Bible, and was unfailingly kind.
Dena Nordstrom thinks she knows what will make her happy – to become a tv newscaster. So she spends her life trying to climb the ladder of fame and success. Eventually she makes it big, but finds that life at the top without any close friends or family is empty.
The story toggles between Dena in the big city, and her distant cousins, Macky and Norma Warren, in the little town of Elmwood Springs, Missouri.