The homestead hidden in Idaho's Salmon River Canyon had been a paradise, until the river claimed the life of her husband. Now, lonelier than she ever thought possible, Hattie Clark finds Toby, an eight-year-old runaway. An unspeakable secret has driven the boy into the wilderness to search for his great-uncle, Afton McCabe, Hattie's cantankerous gold-mining neighbor. The river promises great riches to McCabe but delivers heartbreak, and Afton resents Toby's intrusion. When a devastating illness nearly kills the boy Afton and Hattie decide they must brave the wild river to return him to his father. The journey casts them together against the untamed will of the wilderness, and challenges Toby to keep his new family together.