When Ada falls for a body piercer named Pan, her cheeky grandmother, Mattie, says she looks like a caught trout with all those hooks in her mouth. Ada soon discovers Mattie is also caught in a perpetual swoon. It isn't just Alzheimer's, or the secret vibrator Ada's mother, Joan, is convinced Mattie has stashed in her room—Mattie is having a passionate affair with a ghost.
When Joan buys a house in the north end, the three generations move in next door to Ken—who operates one of the big machines engaged in razing some neighbourhoods and building others up—and his family, who aren't thrilled about their new neighbours. Not only do the newcomers fail to introduce themselves, they and all the other white folks moving north are driving up the rent.
While Ada's obsession with Pan is written on her body, the story of Mattie's love for Edith, a young Mi'kmaw survivor of the residential school in Shubenacadie, unfurls too. Next door, Ken grieves his late wife, a powerful Black community organizer, and tries to inspire his directionless young son. Meanwhile, Ken's daughter, Kiah, works to live up to her mother's magic.
As relationships and neighbourhoods come apart and are put back together, their residents reach back to understand their connections to Halifax's history and forward to recognize their responsibilities in its present.