Jess Waterford’s mother is evil. Since she took off seven years ago—just days after Jess’s ninth birthday—without so much as a wave goodbye, Jess has always wondered what happened to her. And despite the end of her mother’s mental and physical abuse, the memories and the scars still remain. Jess conceals the hurt within by practicing her photography, and by spending as much time as her dad will allow with her baseball star boyfriend, Brody Campbell.
Determined to make use of her new camera, Jess dives into photographing everything in sight. But periodically the resulting prints are flawed, ever so slightly: a smudge on a tree trunk; a blemish in the bus window. These imperfections are not as random as they may seem, however, and Brody and Jess soon discover together that each of these pictures combine to form another image—the grisly image of a murder scene, with Jess’s mother as the victim.
As the new photograph takes shape, Jess’s desire to complete it consumes her, and Brody’s health begins to deteriorate. Torn between her quest to reveal her mother’s killer and her continued worry over Brody’s failing health, Jess finally finds the last piece to the puzzle, and the answer sends her world spiraling into depths from which she may never recover.