In the beginning of the book,Maya who is 3 and Bailey who is 4,they are shipped away to Stamps,Arkansas where their grandmother lives after their parents get divorced.They live and work in the only store where blacks are allowed to in Stamps.
A few years later,Maya and Bailey get Christmas presents from their parents who they thought were dead all this time,and a year later their father shows up and takes them to live with their mother in St.Louis,Missouri before leaving to go to California by himself.
While living with her mother,8 year-old Maya meets Mr.Freeman who is her mother's boyfriend. He molests Maya and later rapes her. She tries to keep quit but is eventually found out,and it goes to court and Mr.Freeman is sent to jail.