In the swamps of Louisiana, in the autumn of 2004, an infant named Daigan Theriot was born to a young teen-age mother named Alexis. Alexis’s hair was long and streaked with pink; as Daigan began to cry, she denounced in absentia his father, whom she called Big Head. When she reached the porch, she fell silent, then forced a smile, as she greeted a tall black nurse named Luwana Marts. Marts is a professional nurturer in a program called the Nurse-Family Partnership, which attempts to improve the prospects of destitute babies.

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