I didn't realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong. As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she'd lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept--even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn't forget the home we'd left behind, couldn't deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business. This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex's mother's life, each new state prompting stories and secrets.