Marcy and Cleo Moon are sisters in a Korean-American family. Cleo is beautiful, alluring and fiercely independent. Marcy is all that her older sister is not: plain, studious, and quietly adoring. When Cleo comes home from college, Marcy realises her older sister is no longer the person she once idolised.
Their summer together is one of emerging sexuality and a sudden death - events that cloud Marcy's vision of life. Cleo lives harder and faster, leaving Marcy behind, with letters from her absent father and a mother who has never fully assimilated to America. Years later, Marcy is still racing to catch up and when her brother-in-law dies in a freak accident, she rushes to offer support and solace to Cleo.
Their reunion throws up a lot of weird questions, and opens the floodgates of family memory - hilarious, touching memories of their immigrant parents, of what it was like to grow up with a mother who could cook but couldn't fit in, an adored but absent father, and a sister who thought she was Cleopatra.
Marcy is forced to re-examine her childhood hero-worship for her older, glamorous sister, and the cultural conflicts that arise from being first generation children of Korean immigrants. She thinks the answer to her problems is to jog for her life through Indian territory in the Nevada desert. Cleo makes designer soups, and sells them as if her life depended on it.