Franny and Jennie had been best friends all their lives until Jennie's parents divorced and she moved away with her mother. Five years later, the two girls are teenagers, meeting again for the first time. But now everything has changed. Franny's family has moved into a remote mountain cabin south of San Francisco, where she has no television and spends her time studying geology. Jennie is into heavy eye shadow and tattoos and is never without her walkman. When the girls' parents go off to watch the Giants play in the World Series at Candlestick Park, Franny and Jenny try to reconnect after so much upheaval in their lives.
But the day is October 17, 1989, and an earthquake calculated at 7.1 on the Richter scale hits Northern California — destroying homes, roads, setting off fires and sending the girls' world into further chaos. Franny knows to turn off gas and water at the remains of her family's house and around her neighborhood. Jennie displays her first-aid skills when they reach the school down the road, which has become a makeshift hospital and recovery center for the beleaguered citizens of the community. After a long, harrowing day, full of rescue efforts helping injured neighbors and animals alike, Franny and Jennie are eventually reunited with their parents, and just maybe with each other.
Author Joe Cottonwood actually lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, and his thrilling novel captures the excitement and danger of that October day. He integrates into his story factual information on geology and earthquakes, and portrays the day's events as accurately as he does the pain and joy of two teenagers coming to terms with the changes in their lives.