DG is five the first time her mother goes away. She’ll go away again and again before DG finally understands why: mental illness and a manipulating husband. DG’s family aren’t like other families. Her father moves them constantly. Moving, along with the stigma of mental illness, isolates the family. In public, they seem the perfect American dream. In private they grow increasingly unstable. Darling Girl unfolds in a series of vignettes spanning ten years and four continents. Traveling through the fifties and sixties and from apartheid South Africa to the capitals of Europe, the family lives like so many dancing bears in a traveling circus with her father as the ringmaster. DG’s story is both personal and universal. She’s on a journey from innocence to experience; to the realization that her mother’s illness isn’t the family’s only problem, it’s not even the main one.