* The story opened as Mary Karr, age seven, trembled on a bare mattress in the basement of her family home while the town doctor tried to figure out what was wrong with her. Lecia, Mary's sister, pretended to sleep in the doctor's arms.
* Mary's father was working at the local refinery when the doctor arrived. Mary's mother was recently taken to a mental hospital for "being nervous." As an adult, Mary compared this condition to the condition of a neighbor who shot his family and burned his house down.
* As a teenager, Mary's mother, Charlie, blew a tire on her car and walked to the nearest gas station where Pete, who would later be Mary's father, was working. Charlie had just gotten out of her fourth marriage, but found herself smitten with Pete and moved closer to him.
* Pete grew up in a logging town and spoke...
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