On her seventh birthday, Pauline rode across the lawns on her street followed by her best friend Henry, he on the blue wooden horse, she on the red. On the seventh lawn at the top of the street, she collapsed, becoming a sudden victim of the polio outbreak of the summer of 1954.
Five years later, when In the Clear begins, she has survived, but paid a heavy price. A brace on her left leg allows her to walk, but she confines herself to her house, humiliated at the notion of being seen. Terrified by what Pauline has already suffered, her mother watches over her, forbidding her to play hockey on the ice rink her father has created in the backyard.
In the Clear alternates, chapter by chapter, between Pauline's horror-filled year in the hospital five years earlier and her struggles to adapt in the present of 1959 and 1960. At the end of the book, her triumphs in past and present come together and she is able to move forward with new friendships, a renewed bond with her mother and, most important, a new faith in herself.