Rhoda Manning is home for the summer in Dunleith, Alabama. In an age of conformity and innocence, the 19-year-old is tired of conventional virtue. Resisting her easy life, she yearns for meaning and beauty, profundity and mystery. Impulsive and adventurous, she attends a midnight meeting of the Klan, and then repelled, hurls herself into the civil rights movement.

Half-conscious of her unmet needs and desires, she vacillates between the world of her family and that of her dreams, flirting with danger, pressing against the edge -- with disturbing and tragic consequences.

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