Virginia and Buddy "had to get married." Their daughter, Madeline, was conceived the first time they "did it" in Buddy's room at college. Virginia's college asked her to leave. Her parents put on a wedding. And now? Well, as Virginia puts it, "now that we know each other a little better it turns out we are actually strangers." Set in 1960, AN ACTUAL LIFE, is about the second summer of Buddy and Virginia's marriage. There's no money, no love, no foreseeable future. They both try hard, but Virginia is all of nineteen and Buddy only just past twenty and neither one has a clue how to make this misbegotten marriage work. The way it ends is both a complete surprise and utterly inevitable.