Marcus’s mom is depressed and worried about her husband being away in the army, but independent, gentle, and with a sense of humor.
Marcus’s dad has been away for a long time when the book opens. Marcus, the narrator, wakes up and starts coffee for his mother. He has taken over the morning ritual.
We had an agreement—we’d both lie to each other and pretend we were sleeping well. It was part of the secondary lie—the we weren’t worried about dad. (ch 1)
His little sister sleeps in his mother’s bed since their dad is away. She appreciates Marcus’s coffee, and they joke about her job at Wal-mart.
Marcus’s mother depends on him since her husband is away. She is understanding, but the relationship is difficult. When her husband returns as not the man he was when he left, she tries to figure him out and help him in her own way.