Shawna was abandoned by her mother at the age of 7, when Mom ran off with her lesbian lover. Eleven years later, when Mom is dying, Shawna gets an opportunity to see her before she dies and begins to discover what happened to her mother after she left them. But this attempt at reconciliation is quickly overshadowed by her father's moves to seek revenge for the abandonment. As Dad's actions threaten the safety and sanity of everyone around them, Shawna slowly begins to realize the things that have been happening around her are not right, and that she must take a stand.
The fact that the book is inevitably hurtling towards a happy(-ish) conclusion is about the only thing that kept me going through this masochistic love fest. The father is a horrible person and the daughter is not much better. Page after page of selfishness and meanness is barely mitigated by Shawna's incessant crying and self-pity (woe is me! woe is me! My Mom was a terrible dyke and hated me!). Give me a break! By 150 pages in, I was developing a true hatred for Shawna. What kept me going to the end was a need to see her (1) grow up; (2) lose her homophobia; (3) get a clue; and (4) become a decent person. I'll ruin the ending slightly by saying that she sort of does these things...but really, there's making your heroine a bit flawed to make her interesting and there's creating a mean nasty witch who almost deserves her nasty abusive father. (Wow! I obviously have issues, here, don't I?)
That said, I read the entire book, so I obviously didn't hate the story (I just hated the characters). I'm not sure I learned much from reading it, but it certainly sucked me in. The author apparently intends the focus to be on how Shawna struggles between trying to be pleasing and containing her anger (and I certainly got that Shawna has anger management issues), but I think the story had a lot more to say about how people who refuse to listen to each other create their own misery. If the reader can pick up that message, they'll have gotten something useful from it. What you will have to put up with is an anwful lot of yelling, a bunch of angry people, and some real nastiness.