Annie helps her sister Clara give birth to her son Silas while Clara's two other children Jasper and Penelope are put to bed. Clara is twenty five, Annie is seventeen, Jasper is eight, and Penelope is three.
Four years later, Clara has fallen into a deep depression after the death of her son Jasper. He was killed in boarding school by a teacher and two students who bullied/hated him for being poor but still highly educated. Penny is seven now and she is not allowed to attend school because of what happened to her brother. Penny took her the death of her brother very hard because they were very close. She has frequent breakdowns/tantrums because of this. Silas is four and he suffers from severe seizures. Annie got pregnant and she and her boyfriend Felix welcomed a daughter, Florence Esme.
Clara took her own life on the two year anniversary of her son's death. She left her other two children behind under the care of Annie and Felix. Annie got pregnant almost immediately after having Florence and she gave birth to another girl, Nora Rose. Felix is upset about his two children having to live in poverty and fear and struggles to find a job that will feed all six of them.
A year later, Annie had her third and final baby, a boy named Jasper Sebastian. The apartment was now a home to seven, and it was getting too crowded for them. Felix worked three jobs to feed everyone, but he wasn't making enough for them to move. Penny's episodes were getting worse, to the point of violence. She beats Silas and Annie's kids as a way of lashing out. Eventually, Annie and Felix decide to send Penny to a home where she can be cared for properly.
Penelope's beatings left Silas in an even worse condition. His seizures were more frequent and lasted for longer periods of time. Every seizure made Silas sick and weak, leaving him a shell of his former self. Felix had been secretly saving money to put down on an apartment, but Silas' health is more important to him, so he sends him to a children's hospital where he can be treated. The family is now back down to five.
Annie and Felix fight constantly, to the point where their own children are afraid of them. Jasper is a very quiet child, he isn't developing as quickly as he should be due to their poor living conditions. Florence and Nora fight with each other almost as much as their parents and no one is happy. One night Felix snaps and leaves, claiming he will never return or help pay for his growing children. Annie threatens suicide to lure him back, but he doesn't fall for her tricks. It isn't until Annie threatens the lives of their children that Felix comes home, the police accompanying him. The cops explain that Felix had been caught stealing from a jewelry store to pawn the jewelry to pay for food and a better home for his family. He also let slip to the police Annie's promises to harm their children and both of them are escorted to jail and their children are taken into foster care. Florence and Jasper are kept together, but Nora is taken to another home across the city.