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, she collapsed, becoming a victim of the polio outbreak of 1954. In the Clear begins five years later. A brace on Pauline's 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 between Pauline's horror-filled year in the hospital five years earlier and her struggles to adapt in the present.