Daughter of a mental health administrator, Carswell grew up on the grounds of an orphanage that became a home for troubled kids. Though she longed to make friends, her father drew a line separating his four children from his charges. What he didn't recognize was that the author had psychological demons too, including an exaggerated fear of losing her mother. The book's scope is narrow: Carswell can't say much about the children raised next door since she never got to know them. Ultimately, her memoir is a tribute to her saintly mother, who died in 1997.