Chapter One begins with three-year-old Westley punching his sister, Nikki, while playing with her. Westley's mother, Joy, is furious when she discovers what he has done.
Frightened at his mother's anger, Westley runs upstairs to the room he shares with Shani, his baby sister. From his room, he can hear his father trying to soothe his mother. Because Westley is only three, he has difficulty understanding why his mother is so angry with him.
The story then shifts to Joy's background. We are told that Joy immigrated to the United States with her family when she was just three years old. As she grew, Joy carefully assimilated into American society. During her teen years, she attended American University in Washington, DC, in 1968. There, she joined OASATAU, an African American social justice campus organization. Joy later married Bill, OASATAU's treasurer.
The marriage was an unhappy one, as Bill regularly indulged his alcohol and drug habit. One evening, Bill attacked Joy in a fit of anger...
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