Tara is asked out on dates by several men in her church congregation, but she turns them down. As a result, she is called into a meeting with the bishop. Noticing that something is wrong, the bishop asks Tara to keep meeting with him. To her surprise, she starts to talk openly with him about her life and her family.
When the semester ends, Tara needs to go home and work. The bishop recommends she stay away, offering to give her money for her rent, but Tara insists on returning. The bishop does get her to promise that she will not work for her father, so Tara returns to working at the grocery store instead. As a result, she returns to school with much less money than she needs. Two weeks into the semester, she comes down with severe tooth pain that requires expensive dental work. Her parents offer to lend her the money on the condition she works for them next summer, and she refuses to do so. Tara tries to ignore the pain.
Learning about the suffering Tara endures, the bishop suggests she apply for a grant or take money from the church, but she refuses to do either. Tara spends a desperate semester barely scraping by, and by Christmas break, she has no money left. She plans to move to Las Vegas to live with her brother Tony. Then, Shawn surprises Tara by giving her just enough money to return to school in January. Still, Tara can barely pay her bills, even with a second job, and the bishop keeps urging her to apply for a grant. Finally, Tara submits the application. She receives a grant and, for the first time, feels financially secure. She also knows she will not need to work for her father ever again.
With her financial problems resolved, Tara focuses on her studies again. Based on a lecture in her psychology class, she begins to suspect that her father is mentally ill. This idea also leads her to research the shooting of the Weaver family at Ruby Ridge. Her father has always told her this story in the context of a family having been mercilessly killed by federal agents after refusing to send their children to school. Tara learns that while family members, including children, were killed, the conflict was triggered by Weaver's involvement in white nationalist movements. Her father's paranoid delusions caused him to completely misinterpret events.
Tara begins to research and write about bipolar disorder. She becomes much angrier, and eventually confronts her father about the way his behavior has impacted her life. She stays in Utah for the summer. She moves to an apartment, interns at a law firm, and starts dating a man named Nick. When she falls ill, Nick insists she see a doctor. Tara is prescribed antibiotics and tells her mother, who is disappointed with her for turning to scientific medicine. The next morning, Audrey calls to tell Tara that their father has been in a serious accident.
Tara reflects on a family story. When her grandfather was seriously injured while working alone on the mountain, angels came to help him and saved his life. Her father has been injured in an accident where a fuel tanker exploded, and has suffered severe burns to his face and fingers. Tara goes to Idaho, horrified by her father's condition. Against all odds, Gene slowly begins to recover.