Sadie, recently divorced, with an adult son who is struggling with his own life, enters the workforce as a nurses’ aide at Park View Nursing Home. Third shift is tough, but suits her life until she hears a resident crying and meets the long-time bully of the third shift, John Braddford. John taunts Sadie, informs her that her son is dating his daughter, and convinces her that the crying resident is just confused. Sadie just wants to do her job, but the residents she gets to meet in the quiet, still hours of the night, come to mean too much to her to look the other way.
As she tries to look into the future and forget the past that had become an unhappy, desolate life, Sadie finds a bright apartment in a large old house owned by Margaret and her son David. Margaret engulfs Sadie in a tapestry of flowers, baking, and philosophy of life while David’s easy, friendly manner helps Sadie enjoy learning about new things and buoys her own sense of creativity. David collects old post cards and an unexpected throve of historical cards has Sadie, Margaret, and David planning a wonderful project of identifying old landmarks with the help of the Park View residents.
At work Sadie has witnessed more behavior by John and his cousin Pam, the night shift LPN, that makes her heart ache for the people whose identities and histories are all but lost once they move into Park View. She designs a project to give them back their histories and sets out to create personal books for each resident on her wing. Her activities land her in the administrator’s office when a resident’s family member commends the project which the administrator knows nothing about. But Sadie is assured that she can continue with the project and she is renewed once again.
Sadie once more comes upon John and discovers what he is doing in the room of a resident, Mr. Dunphy, who Sadie had heard crying. Sadie finds John watching TV in the room, keeping the resident up all night and taunting him to be quiet. Sadie acts and pours water into the TV so that for now Mr. Dunphy will be able to sleep and not have John keep him awake.
But the attempt to save Mr. Dunphy is the perfect event for Pam and John to use to as a reason that Sadie should be punished. Destroying property is reason to be fired and it is only because the nursing supervisor sees a caring person in Sadie and has nagging suspicions about John that Sadie gets to keep her job.
The unhealthy culture of the home continues with jokes about residents, laughing at them naked, and worse. The tangle of personalities and power grabbing and moral struggles is ongoing and exhausting. Nothing is easy to prove when it is one person’s word against another’s. Then there is a theft of personal property and this time a family member is furious. Sadie is sure it is John and Pam, frequent sellers at the local Flea Market, who are stealing items. But how could she ever prove it? When some old postcards that David gave to the residents turn up being sold at the Flea Market, Sadie tells all and has high hopes of catching the bully and seeing him fired from Park View.
The thief is caught and it isn’t John or Pam. How is it that good people do bad things to the vulnerable residents of a nursing home? Sadie is more confused than ever, but when she has suspicions that John is sexually molesting a young, severely disabled patient, she acts to stop this horrible abuse.
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