|Directed by||Karen Moncrieff|
Peer J. Oppenheimer|
|Written by||Karen Moncrieff|
|Music by||Adam Gorgoni|
|Edited by||Toby Yates|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
Megan is a teenage gifted writer living in the Dayton, Ohio area. She has been abandoned by her father and neglected by her mother, who works 12-hour days and goes to school at night, leaving Megan to babysit her younger sister, Lily. The girls' father does not pay child support, causing financial strain in the household.
Lily has serious emotional problems; she cuts herself, refuses to eat, and speaks about becoming an angel. After being checked into the psychiatric ward of a hospital, Lily kills herself by jumping out of an open window as she tries to "fly". Meg finds solace in her English teacher, Mr. Auster, who claims he is passionate about writing a novel. He becomes a comfort to Megan, and encourages her to enter a poetry contest, which is later followed by one-on-one poetry tutoring.
After winning the local round of the competition, Megan wants to compete at the finals in Florida during spring break. With her mother unable and unwilling to fund the trip, Megan resorts to stealing and is barely able to make it to Florida.
A closer, pseudo-sexual relationship develops between Megan and Mr. Auster. The two run into each other outside the hotel that is hosting the poetry competition and go to a hotel room, where Megan reluctantly has sex with Mr. Auster, who stops after realizing that she is not comfortable with the situation. After this, Megan realizes that Mr. Auster has not written a novel at all, and that it was all just a ruse to impress her. After writing and delivering a brand new poem subtly denouncing Mr. Auster, Megan walks out of the competition. Later, back home, she decides to live with her father, riding away with him in his blue car.
- Agnes Bruckner as Megan Denning
- David Strathairn as Auster
- Margaret Colin as Diane
- Frances Fisher as Delia
- A. J. Buckley as Pat
- Regan Arnold as Lily
- Sarah Buehler as Georgia
- Dustin Sterling as Rob
- Mike Ward as Dad
- Wayne Armstrong as Don
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 86 reviews, and an average rating of 6.9/10. The website's critical consensus states that the film is "a cautionary tale that rings true." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".