"Quickening" is the stage in pregnancy when a fetus shows signs of having a life of its own -- a stage in the development that this first-time novelist likens to the equally dramatic step of a child moving away from home. Nineteen-year-old Mandy Boyle is leaving for college -- full of ambition and anticipation, more than ready to sever ties with her blue-collar family and their backwater town. But then the sudden death of her father shatters her exciting new world and shows her that her connection with home is stronger than she thought. The first-person narrative of Quickening becomes compelling as Mandy, caught between her old and new lives, struggles to find a way through her increasingly turbulent world, where she's buffeted by problems she's too young and inexperienced to handle.
During the six-month course of this novel, we observe the transformation -- the quickening -- of this young woman: No longer simply reacting to the people and circumstances around her, Mandy begins to choose, for the first time, a life for herself.