Newlywed Jane Forrester, fresh out of college with a degree gets a job very easily with a soclal work department dealing with a very poor area in North Carolina. After a while she finds out why it was easy to get a job in such a depressed area. It is 1960. Her husband does not want her to work as he feels it reflects badly on him and takes away from her fitting in to the country club set. She encounters such grinding poverty that it takes her a long time to understand what choices or lack of them some of her clients have. Against all advice, she gets too close to some of them and is then caught in the middle of an unfolding tragedy. Beautifully written.