This novel is really five stories within a story that are induced by a story, like a nesting puzzle. So, we have six stories in the book. There may be a lack of a principal plot here but it is of no consequence as the novel's main purpose is to serve as a forum for six various stories of Richard Clayton Harwick, Claudia, Colin, Ralph, Pixie and Robbo.
Harwick's story prompts Claudia, Colin, Ralph, Pixie and Robbo to tell their own tales of stepfathers, stepmothers, and stepsiblings, who are in turn eccentric, beloved, unwelcome, and almost always misunderstood. Each vignette (descriptive passage within a larger work) is a wonderful study of human nature. As the lightning flashes, the children begin to relate their own tales of step parents, stories that are full of warmth and humour, yet with a fair share of sadness. At first it seems the children could have nothing in common. Sports-mad Robbo, quick-witted Ralph, sensible Claudia, fiery Pixie and dreamy Colin seem as different to each other as it is possible to be. Yet they soon find they have one thing in common, and that they are all the products of broken homes and they once have a turbulent relationship with a 'step-' or 'steps-'.