Teenage Francesca James has had to pick up the slack at home, to cover for her father Bix's long trips away working, and for her mother Lillian's drinking, which has become worse in the months since Francesca's brother died in an accident. New neighbor Connie helps out, but can't prevent Lillian from ruining Kate's birthday party. Lillian also endangers them by dropping a lit cigarette on her pillow after a binge, nearly causing a house fire. Enough clues have slipped out to Francesca's friends to be concerned, and they invite her to AlaTeen. Angered at first by the approach, Francesca comes to value the things they teach her, and helps Lillian begin to help herself.