These richly imaginative stories encompass train wrecks, circus acts, river journeys, transspecies transmogrification, and growing up and growing old around the small towns of Michigan. Here both nature and man can threaten a woman, but neither does more damage than her own choices. Bonnie JO Campbell's hardworking, sometimes hard-drinking protagonists live precisely the lives they make for themselves, and it is not surprising that children look beyond human role models to dogs, milk cows, even gorillas. Though Campbell never glamorizes poverty, she details a vision in which shabbiness, beauty, brutality, and wisdom all coexist, and the stories can be surprisingly optimistic, often funny. These women of Michigan's lower peninsula may live without automotive safety belts or televisions or the right kind of love, but they are able to trust their instincts and are ultimately drawn to whatever can save them. In "Sleeping Sickness" a twelve-year-old girl copes with the sexually charged atmosphere created by her mother's new boyfriend. In "Bringing Home the Bones" a woman must lose her leg before she can come to terms with her estranged daughters. In "Running" the narrator obsesses about the mating habits of birds and the promiscuity of her neighbor's daughter while her own fertility trickles away. In "Eating Aunt Victoria" a young woman finally looks into the face of her dead mother's lesbian lover. In "Shifting Gears" a man buys a new truck in order to get over his wife's leaving, but can't stop thinking about the pregnant woman next door.