Ten-year-old Iva Giles believes her father is lost. His checks, which once arrived every week, become sporadically-mailed wadded dollar bills, then simply stop coming altogether. She lives with her mother and little sister, half in her present world, where the scenery alters and reality is erased a little more each day; and half in her past world, that of her family foursome before it split apart.What Iva knows about her father is his obsession with water-his trips to lakes, rivers, and oceans searching for something-and that she was his favorite. He was always leaving, yet somehow Iva thinks of him as always coming back. For all these years, Iva has tried to stand still long enough for him to come to her. As their mother drives the two girls farther from where they last knew him, in a quick string of moves into smaller and smaller houses until there's no house at all but only a motel room, Iva feels like she's losing her grasp on their past.So she runs. She boards a Gulf-bound bus in the middle of the night, searching for what was pulling her father away. She confronts her mother's limitations of the heart, her sister's limitations of youth, and in the face of these, Iva chooses her own path back to the only thing she believes is real anymore, or was ever real at all. But what she finds in Pascagoula, Mississippi, isn't at all what she expected-and so neither is she.