The book is multi-layered, however, and other themes are explored too. Sibling relationships, love, bereavement, together with the trials of growing up in difficult family circumstances, are all considered. The Chesapeake Bay area is a society in the throes of economic change, so poverty and hardship are commonplace. Hard times and lack of employment opportunities contribute to the rising racial tensions in the area, even as the harsh conditions are experienced, to some degree, by both the black and white communities. As the narrative moves into the 1960s, the campaign for black civil rights has a major impact on the area. The group of children, now young adults, are caught up in the seismic events happening around them, events which threaten to tear their friendships apart.