In 1983, two outcasts are brought together by circumstance: nine-year-old Michael Nygaard, a Minnesota farm boy transplanted to suburban Chicago after his father dies, and Julia Parnell, a woman trying to begin again after a failed attempt to live openly. Michael doesn't understand the new people around him: the wild girl across the street nurtures their friendship and then undermines it; her alcoholic father rockets between affability and rage; the bullies at school taunt him; and he adores his teacher, Miss Parnell, but knows she's living a false life. When Julia's secret is exposed, she faces a choice: accept herself for who she is or deny her true nature. Meanwhile, Michael must also choose whether to simply endure his new situation or fight back. Coming of age will take bravery from these two lost soulsand if they can't find the strength to change, neither will have the life they long for.