Single Frank Adler, who works as a freelance boat repairman and lives in a trailer park on the Florida coast, has been guardian to his seven year old niece Mary Adler since she was a newborn after her mother, Frank's sister, Diane Adler, committed suicide. At the time, Frank was a Philosophy professor at Boston University, he moving with Mary in an effort to "escape". Like her mother, Mary is a math prodigy, of which Frank is well aware. Frank has home schooled Mary up until now in an effort to protect her from people like who he was escaping from, his and Diane's own mother, uncompromising (to use Frank's vernacular) Evelyn Adler, who, if she had custody, would have had a singular focus in the math prodigy aspect of Mary, much like she was with Diane. Frank, who has largely treated Mary like an equal in being up front with her about most things, has now decided to send Mary to a regular public school in an effort to socialize her to other children and to make her feel like a normal child, with their neighbor, adult Roberta Taylor, Mary's only real friend besides Frank. Roberta routinely sits with Mary to allow Frank his regular Friday out at the bar for himself. Although Frank cautions Mary about not being too "obvious" at school, Mary's teacher, Bonnie Stevenson, quickly discovers not only Mary's advanced math abilities, but her background being Diane's daughter. Although Miss Stevenson, like Frank, wants what's best holistically for Mary, the process to provide an advanced education to Mary at the expense of all else begins to snowball to the point where Evelyn learns of Frank and Mary's whereabouts. Not agreeing with any of Frank's choices, Evelyn sues for full custody, which brings into light the entire dynamic that existed and exists between Evelyn, Frank and Diane.