No wonder eleven-year-old Turtle has a hard shell around her. Her single mother is starry-eyed about every no-good man she meets and thinks they'll rescue her and Turtle from the hardships of the Great Depression. And now Turtle's mom has a new job as a maid for a lady who doesn't like kids. So Turtle and her cat are sent to live on Curry Lane in Key West Florida in 1935 with her mother's sister, Minnie, who doesn't even know she's coming and really can't afford to keep her niece, along with her own brood of ruffians. The cousins, who also have dumb nicknames, eat strange things like alligator pears and have a job that pays in candy, taking care of fussy babies in the neighborhood. They don't allow Turtle in on the action or pay either. Turtle then meets a mean old lady who is really her grandmother, a woman her mother said died years before and who also has no use for children. But when Turtle finds a treasure map, she hopes she and her mother will finally live on Easy Street, like Orphan Annie in the comics, especially now that mom has married a dashing salesman who could be the Daddy Warbucks in Turtle's life. But life is not like the movies and Turtle emerges from her shell on Curry Lane where her family lives and where the author's family lived.