In the year 2008, fifteen year-old Emily Grace (Em) discovers a secret hiding place under a wooden plank in the attic of an old house in Petersburg. It conceals a 150 year-old-diary belonging to Sarah Chamberlain, the previous owner of the house. Carefully turning to the last entry, Em’s interest is piqued by the mention of missing confederate gold and a murder mystery. She slips the diary into the pocket of her capris.
As she reads the diary, Em is touched by Sarah’s deep love for her husband, Robert. Emotionally, Em’s life is spinning out of control and the diary is a welcome distraction. Each day her faith slips further and further away as she blames God for the many trials and tribulations she has had to endure. After rereading the last page and Robert’s senseless murder, she has one more reason to doubt God’s love for his creation.
Em slips the diary back in her pocket planning to return it to the attic before helping her mother clean the old house in Petersburg. While scrubbing black scuffmarks off the kitchen floor, Em has an emotional meltdown airing her list of grievances, including Robert’s murder, before God. As she shouts that she doesn’t believe he really exists, vertigo suddenly hits with a vengeance and she passes out. Regaining consciousness, Em is dumbfounded; the kitchen has been replaced by a nineteenth century parlor.