This is the story of the Tomlinson family's journey in Kingston, Jamaica, between the 1950s and 1970s. The Tomlinson family's dream becomes reality when they move from the inner city to a middle class neighbourhood in East Kingston. But their dream is short-lived. Arthur, the patriach and an alcoholic, in a drunken fury one night, orders his wife Rose to leave the house. Rose, a work-from-home dressmaker, leaves everything behind, and with her four children. the youngest still a toddler, flee to her mother, Mari, 'Granny'. The six of them share Granny's one-room quarters for months.
Rose finds work, and they move from one tenement yard to another, settling on a rented house for all of them. By this time, Arthur's life spirals as he becomes more dependent on white rum. He loses his job as a fireman, then the family home, and takes refuge in a room upstairs his favourite bar. Rose continues to seek a better life. On an invitation letter, she goes to Toronto, Canada. She remains there after attaining work as a live-in domestic, leaving the children with their grandmother. Granny's love, however, is not enough to restrain the teenagers. Marcy, the youngest, has a boyfriend, who is taking her down a path of drugs and staying out late. Will Rose ever return to save her children from a life of of waywardness? Or is the Tomlinson family destined to a doomed life?