In this Vietnam-era novel, Max Carboni erects roadside crosses for family members of loved ones killed in highway accidents. He comes to believe that this part of the family florist business is something people should do for themselves—that it’s just one more thing the world wants to delegate to him. As Max prepares to accept the Vietnam draft, his overbearing father hires anti-war Francie to sing hymns alongside Max at highway accident sites.
Francie, who has no real family of her own, desperately wants to be part of the Carbonis. She is an aspiring musician, fresh from Woodstock, and has dreams of being a sensation in music festivals. At first, Max resents her barging into the family, especially her influence on his younger sister. Then Francie begins to have an even stronger effect on him. She makes Max confront those things he absolutely must do for himself—things he can neither delegate nor abdicate. Together, they must figure out why the corrupt local sheriff is trying to also wedge his way into the family business.
Max and Francie fall in love amid the swirl of epic historic events—the after-Woodstock festivals, the My-Lai massacre, the first draft lottery, and the Kent State shootings. They contend with ways to make peace, love, and music—and arrive at very different solutions.