Sherry Swanson (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is released after serving 3 years in prison for theft which helped fund her drug habit. Now clean, she tries to reenter society by finding a job and a place to live all so that she can finally be with her young daughter. While she was in prison, her brother Bobby and his wife cared for Sherry's daughter, Lexie, as if she were their own. Sherry is practically a stranger to her daughter and it is difficult for the two of them to connect again.
Sherry starts to face some of her inner demons and we find out that Sherry's father sexually abused her for years. Realizing that being out of prison is just as difficult as being in, Sherry starts to drink again and one night, she succumbs to the temptation of heroin. She admits to her parole officer that she is using again and he gives her a choice - prison or inpatient drug rehab. Sherry's begs to be given outpatient treatment because she is afraid she will lose her daughter if she goes into a facility, but the officer is unrelenting. He gives her the weekend to think it over.
Sherry visits her brother that same weekend and asks him if she can take Lexie out for the day, just mother and daughter. He reluctantly agrees and although Lexie and Sherry have a rocky start to their day, they start to bond. However, Sherry has every intention of kidnapping Lexie and moving them to Florida, but reality hits and Shery realizes that she cannot raise for her daughter alone. She returns Lexie to Bobby and asks him for his help in caring for her daughter.
The final scene shows Sherry driving away, knowing that her daughter is loved and cared for and that Sherry can finally get her life together.