Thirteen-year-old Polly loves life -- with her single-parent mom (a stained-glass artist), her quirky best friend Vanessa (who has a crush on their English teacher), and her endearing neighbor Ernie Protheroe (who collects postal codes and TV theme songs). But when the house they live in is sold, Polly's perfect life seems to vanish overnight. Her mom doesn't have much luck finding them an affordable place to live. And Polly is beginning to think that having a father -- and a conventional lifestyle -- wouldn't be such a bad idea. As an interim solution, Polly goes to stay with her affluent relatives. But Uncle Roger turns out to be crass and chilly, his wife is self-indulgent, and their daughter, Polly's teenage cousin, is on a shoplifting spree. With humor and compassion, Sarah Ellis portrays adolescent enlightenment, as Polly discovers that like the child's game of pick-up sticks, each part of life touches every other and cannot be disturbed without affecting the whole.