Twenty-four-year-old elementary school teacher Annie Harper is left behind in Tacoma, Washington, when her boyfriend David, an army lieutenant, is shipped overseas. Struggling with the complex emotions tied to his absence, she begins writing a confessional memoir, imagining it as a moving account of "the woman at home." But instead of devolving into a tear-jerking tale of integrity and patience, Annie's life goes on without David in ways she didn't anticipate. She spends more time with her best friend, Gus, begins volunteering at a local retirement center, and adopts a pet chicken. Even as she misses David enormously between his sparse e-mails and choppy phone calls, she struggles with conflicted feelings about their long-distance relationship, her own identity and family history, and the ideological underpinnings of a war that's exerting such a force on her life.