The story begins in 1945 when twelve-year-old Rusty Dickinson returns to Devon near the end of the Second World War. Five years ago she had been living away from the bombs in America, where she had grown up with a large, almost Bohemian family. She arrives to a war-torn England, where she suddenly feels alone and does not know even her mother very well. Rusty struggles to settle down to her new life, finding the differences between England and America unnerving.
Rusty's inner turmoil heightens when her family moves to Guildford and she is sent to boarding school for the first time. Her grandmother is hostile and anti-American, and her teachers and peers at school think that she is a complete tearaway. After having received good grades in America, she finds herself behind in her work at school. One day she meets a boy who was also evacuated to America, and risks expulsion to talk to him. They meet in the woods at night almost every night, but Rusty is concerned that her new friend (Lance) is settling in too quickly.
Almost out of the blue Rusty's father arrives at home from fighting in the War, and almost immediately follows constant conflict between the two of them. His ideas are relatively old fashioned to the point that her mother cannot talk to him anymore. Eventually Rusty decides to run away back to America, but is she prepared to leave her family behind?
This report prepared by Liza Rosette