Suze Tamaki's life gets turned upside down when her mother suddenly reappears after a ten-year absence. Once Suze gets over her initial cynicism, she thinks it might be cool to get to know her mom. But her older sister Tracie – who has been as much mother as sister at times – is determined to make Suze’s life a misery for even considering it. At school things aren’t much better, as one of her teachers decides the way to cure her apathy about class is to move her into Honors English – a development Suze finds both inspiring and distressing. When she's paired with straight-A student Amanda on an English assignment, she finds herself caring about people’s expectations like she’s never done before.