GARDENS OF THE NIGHTIn San Diego, fifteen-year-old Leslie hesitatingly enters a shelter. Her answers to questions about her family are evasive.
Eight years earlier: Leslie is living with her parents. On her way to school two men from her neighbourhood ask her to help them find a dog that they presume is playing somewhere with her own dog. Leslie walks back with them but they can’t find the dog. Leslie is now late for school and so the men offer to drive her there. In the car, she discovers that Alex and Frank both work for Leslie’s father. After school, Leslie is surprised to see the two men again, who have now come to pick her up because her parents have apparently been called away on urgent business; the men have come to take Leslie to her parents. Leslie is given something to drink and falls unconscious. In her semi-conscious state she vaguely senses that they are on a long car journey. Some time later she wakes up in a tiny bedroom. There is a boy in the same room – Donnie – who has been heavily drugged. Leslie loses consciousness again. This marks the beginning of their ordeal as child prostitutes. While Donnie believes that his drug-addicted mother has simply sold him, Leslie is told that her parents want nothing to do with her any more. Deeply ashamed of her current situation, Leslie even believes them.
The truth does not surface until Leslie, not knowing where else to go, turns up at the children’s shelter. She returns to her family, but nothing is the way it used to be.