Chuckie O'Malley, having just been thrown out of Notre Dame, decides to go to the University of Chicago, thought by many of his co-religionists to be a hotbed of atheism and communism. There he finds Rosemarie, his beautiful foster sister who gave him his first kiss. Though Chuckie thinks of himself as dull, Rosemarie knows better and goads him into a career of infinite promise and gratification, to say nothing of fame and glory. Love blossoms between the two, but she carries within her a soul-destroying secret that eventually threatens her life and the lives of those who love her. Greeley paints a fascinating picture of life in the U.S. after WWII, the returning veterans, the women they loved, and their children, the baby boomers.