Born January 4, 1940, in Dennisonville, North Carolina, Willis Oakley, second son of Benson Oakley, Jr., was a disappointment to his father from the beginning.
Arriving weeks before his due date, with a crossed eye and beak nose, Willis was labeled “scrawny” by his father, who would find the boy a source of embarrassment throughout his childhood. Though blessed with a keen mind, and a good heart, Willis, in his father’s eyes, would never measure up to his older brother’s good looks and athletic prowess.
Willis’s mother, Hettie, tries to shield him from his father’s mistreatment, but when she grows tired of the struggle, Ivy Leigh Ransom takes Willis into the Magnolia Arms. Surrounded by people who love him, Willis begins to thrive, until his heart is broken one time too many, a pain he will neither forget nor forgive.