Two cousins, as close as sisters, are both seriously injured in a dormitory fire in which a young man dies. Both Arden and Rory lie in comas. They attend a local Maryland university only because the restaurant owned by Arden's mother, Natalie, and Rory's father, Vince, faces financial failure, thanks to Vince's bad investments. It doesn't help that Natalie and Vince were once lovers, before she married Theo, Vince's brother, and he married Gabrielle, a mysterious French beauty who now seeks to control Rory's life just as Rory seeks to control Arden's.
Before the money problems, Arden had planned to study art in California, to get away from Rory as much as anything, while Rory had been accepted to Harvard. Yet it turns out that Arden has been writing Rory's papers for her and has been taking tests for her. Yet Rory, not Arden, was accepted by Harvard?
We experience this story through the minds of Natalie, Arden and Rory, with Natalie telling us what's happening in the present, while the cousins, still in their comas, recall the past and how that fire ultimately occurred.
Buckley gives her readers some surprises along the way before wrapping everything up with a neat bow at the end. I found her novel addictive, at least until the disappointing ending.