Six black children are abandoned by their parents during the Depression-Roadwalkers. One by one they are saved, lost, or simply disappear until only two are left to live off the land. Finally the youngest is captured by a white farm manager. He sends her to an orphanage in New Orleans. Later in the book this youngest child is grown and her life is explained through the eyes of her daughter. They live an eccentric middle-class life with the daughter being sent off to integrate a white Catholic girls' school in the East.