It's summer and hell in Tucson, Arizona. Leslie and daughters, Sam and Audrey, have just landed at The Oasis, a seedy motor court along the Miracle Mile, a street notorious for prostitution, drugs, and skin joints. They are at the tag end of everything from money to hope, and so begins their struggle to make a life that is better than the one they left in cool, green Santa Rosa, California, where they had friends, a 4000 square foot house, closets full of designer clothes, a gourmet kitchen and a dangerously abusive husband and father.
The story is told in four alternating voices. The first belongs to Sam, a diminutive eleven-year old with with blue eyes and a vampire phobia. Angry, isolated and bored, she is the only one who seems to acknowledge just how far they have fallen.
The second voice is Dee's, the 300 pound, canasta playing, Jesus loving manager of The Oasis. She and LeRoy, her decrepit miniature greyhound, befriend the lonely Sam. Dee doesn't know where her life is taking her, but knows God only requires her to put one foot in front of the other. Most day's she's pretty sure she can do this.
Chablee's voice is next. She is the thirteen-year old biracial daughter of a topless dancer and carries a chip on her shoulder the size of a small T-Rex. Lying has become her method for coping with the unusual and embarrassing circumstances of her life. She and Audrey begin a friendship forged by their mutual devotion to make-up and pedicures.
The last voice belongs to Leslie, a conventionally pretty woman of 34. Running away from her husband with her reluctant daughters in tow was an act of courage, but now she's in a limbo state, mired there by guilt, self-doubt and poverty. When she lands a job as a telemarketer, she must daily leave Sam and Audrey to fend for themselves. Leslie had risked everything she had to protect her daughters and is devastated when she fails.
A Garden of Aloes is a poignant, sometimes shocking story, but there are moments of high hilarity. When you least expect to, you will laugh out loud, yet the plight of the women living at The Oasis is no laughing matter.