In 1888, hardworking twelveyearold Jocey Royal, tormented because of a disfiguring harelip, takes her invalid grandmother to live on the Kansas farm that her drifter father has abandoned. Though twelveyearold Jocey Royal no longer goes to school, she reads. And out of her books comes dreams. Her dreams are her life, because she has a harelip and is convinced that no one will ever be her friend, that everyone will always chase her and make fun of her, as the children at school did before she quit. She wishes she never had to see another person. Jocey lives with her grandmother, a washerwoman, in Kansas City, Missouri. It is 1888, and Kansas, just to the north of them, is still pioneer country. Jocey's father once bought a farm there, but since the death of her mother he has become a drifter. They have not seen him in several years. Then, gradually, Jocey develops an idea. She loves the idea of the farm. There, no one would ever see her. Her life would be free from torment. Eventually she talks Gram into going with her to Kansas. But life on a farm is not what Jocey thought it would be. The work is hard – that she expected. But there are neighbors and traveling salesmen who cannot be avoided. There are problems with Gram, who is determined to be an invalid, though she is not one. Jocey wonders if she made the right decision, until she begins to discover that even with her harelip she can have friends, if she will open herself to others. And maybe the harelip itself can be helped.