While dining out with friends, Sy suggests the difficulty of separating comedy from tragedy. To illustrate his point, he tells his guests two parallel stories about Melinda ; both versions have the same basic elements, but one take on her state of affairs leans toward levity, while the other is full of anguish. Each story involves Melinda coping with a recent divorce through substance abuse while beginning a romantic relationship with a close friend's husband.
A slick, smooth-talking, womanizing young black DJ falls hard for an enigmatic woman he's just met. Things take a turn for the worse, though, when she is found dead in his apartment. It turns out that she was killed by the local mob, which is trying to frame him for the crime. With the police after him, he calls on some of his old acquaintances to help clear his name and avenge the woman's death.
Melinda's world is very small. Her dour parents, members of a religious sect, forbid the celebration of birthdays or holidays. Melinda finds solace in small things: a spun silver spider web, her box of treasures, and a stolen afternoon at Silver Lake on her "day of days." As the movie and the year progresses, Melinda experiences ageless comforts and pains. A disgraced famous writer and a waylaid college professor, two exiles in the small Mid-Western town, haunt the edges of her sheltered life. An earthy, warmhearted waitress introduces her to the blues and a fizzy drink called Cola-Cola. She receives her first explorative attention from a boy. Escalating tragedy shatters Melinda's innocence. Devastated, she flees into the night where, by drawing on her tenacious spirit, she ultimately triumphs.
A young tech worker takes a job at a powerful Internet corporation, quickly rises up the company's ranks, and soon finds herself in a perilous situation concerning privacy, surveillance and freedom. She comes to learn that her decisions and actions will determine the future of humanity.
Freshman high-school student Melinda has refused to speak ever since she called the cops on a popular summer party. With her old friends snubbing her for being a rat, and her parents too busy to notice her troubles, she folds into herself, trying to hide her secret: that star senior Andy raped her at the party. But Melinda does manage to find solace in her art class headed by Mr. Freeman.
Under hypnosis while trying to quit smoking, the main character Daisy Gamble revisits past lives and different personalities