A woman moves to Maryville, Missouri—"the kind of place where down-home values still reigned"—after her husband dies in a car wreck. Her two teenage daughters are raped by star high school athletes, the whole town turns on this woman and her children, she gets fired from her job, no charges are brought against the boys who raped her daughters, and then their house is burned down:

Few dispute the basic facts of what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2012: A high school senior had sex with Coleman’s 14-year-old daughter, another boy did the same with her daughter’s 13-year-old friend, and a third student video-recorded one of the bedding scenes. Interviews and evidence initially supported the felony and misdemeanor charges that followed. Yet, two months later, the Nodaway County prosecutor dropped the felony cases against the youths, one the grandson of a longtime area political figure.

The incident sparked outrage in the community, though the worst of it was directed not at the accused perpetrators but at a victim and her family. In the months that followed, Coleman lost her job, and her children were routinely harassed. When it became too much, they left, retreating east to Albany.

Coleman had hoped the move would allow them to heal in peace, that the 40 miles separating the towns would be enough to put an end to their bitter saga. Now, though, as she stared at the charred remains of her house, the distance didn’t seem nearly enough.

“Small town America is the soul of our country.”—Sarah Palin

"Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul and there I see such black and grained spots."—William Shakespeare