It opens with our narrator who hates her stepfather. Because when she first met him -- opening the door to the house so he could come in and have dinner -- there were a lot more shadows there than there ought to have been.
This all takes place in a world that is obviously a kind of alternate North America -- seriously alternate, few of the names are vaguely the same -- where she is a high school student. She didn't make it into the calculus class and has to take more algebra with a seriously enormous book, she has a dog and a job at the local animal shelter, and she has friends like a boy who does origami, and a girl who sometimes has premonitions. A few generations back, the magic gene got chopped out of people in the Newworld. They still have problems with "cobleys" breaking out, and strange silverbugs that aren't really bugs.
And the story starts with the intriguing mix of her life at the high school and her issues with her stepfather, building onward from there. It involves quite a bit of secrets, a really cute boy working at the pizza place who overhears something incorrectly, unadoptable dogs and an unadoptable Manx cat from the shelter, and pulling paper out of the algebra book for origami.