Tasked with sorting through her great-grandmother's research into family history, 19-year old Linn reads a will from 1762 that starts her wondering about how her ancestors lived. Home from her freshman year at a prestigious college, she tries to cope with a near-rape she fended off, and with decisions about her future. She considers the darker parts of her family story and imagines a past as conflicted as her own life.
Linn's family tree contains Philip Alston who was not once, but twice indicted for murder, removed as justice of the peace, and suspended from the state legislature. Yet, his wife Temperance stayed married to him, the two having at least eight children together.
As Linn comes of age, we discover the Alston and related families during their journey through the American Revolution and beyond. Excavating the history found in documents left scattered among family papers, census records, and in online archives, Linn discovers her family. She sees earlier generations were just as hopeful for love and just as prone to hurting each other as we remain today. Along the way Linn finds peace with her complicated life and joy in the lives of her forebears.