At the turn of the last century, twelve year old Ellen Copley embarks on a journey from Scotland to America with her father. They are hoping to leave the sooty rail yards of Glasgow behind, and start again in a small Vermont village with Ellen's aunt and uncle. Yet within weeks of their arrival, Ellen finds herself abandoned, living with her inhospitable relatives and unwelcome in the town. Still, new adventures await as Ellen travels to Canada to live with her father's sister and her boisterous family. Accepted by these relatives in a way she never has been before, Ellen finds herself living a fractured existence in both Vermont and Canada, torn between love and duty. Soon she realizes she will have some important decisions to make about just who she wants to be as she struggles to carve a place for herself in a changing and increasingly turbulent world.