After being hypnotized at a party, Kira discovers she is from a mysterious country she can't remember called Crythe, and she and her mother are kidnapped by a greedy woman who wants to make money from her parents' technological inventions. Kira is confused by the memories her friends uncover, and her friend Lynne can tell. Kira's mother never told her about Crythe, and Kira can't remember it. Lynne convinces Kira to ask her mother – but Kira's mother is both frightened and stubborn. Just a few days later, Kira's mother takes leave from her library job to do research and is kidnapped by Rona, who claims to be Crythian. Kira's mother leaves a note for Kira to go to Lynne's house. Instead, Rona stops by claiming to be Kira's Crythian Aunt Memory and kidnaps Kira as well – with Lynne, inbeknownst to any of them, as a stowaway in Kira's luggage.
Once in Crythe, Rona demands that Kira give a speech she has prepared for her Kira realizes she is being used as a puppet and refuses. In secret, Lynne touches base with Kira. Because Kira has angered Rona and asks so many questions, however, Rona moves Kira and locks her up in her mother's cell, also providing them with the opportunity to collaborate. Kira learns the importance of memory in Crythe, and about its origins. Crythe was originally in Ukraine, and a few of its naive citizens, including Kira's parents, were Russian-educated when they caught the attention of Soviet officials. After the Chernobyl incident, Crythe was transferred to the mountains of California. Once there, Kira's parents invented a way to download memories. Rona wants this knowledge, and in the end, war breaks out in Crythe. Kira in fact has her parents' memories – with their inventions – locked into her brain, and they can be unlocked using hypnosis. This was the reason her “mother” – who now reveals herself to be Kira's aunt Sophia, and who had brought her out of Crythe as a baby for their own safety – was so frightened by Kira's hypnotism incident.
Lynne, meanwhile, is caught and Rona tries to use her to manipulate Kira and Sophia. Kira and Sophia decide to use Sophia's vault in the bank in Willistown, OH (Kira's hometown) as a bluff. Rona takes Kira and Lynne to Willistown but keeps Sophia as a hostage. During the plane ride, Lynne hypnotises Kira to unlock her memories. Kira realizes that her mother actually is her mother. When her sister Sophia was killed, Kira's mother transferred Sophia's memories to herself, and after bumping her head, confused herself into thinking she was Sophia. Kira's father Alexei sent her off with baby Kira, knowing that would give them both a chance to get away. He himself was killed in the turmoil caused by their inventions and Rona's interference.
At the bank, the teller (who knows Kira) sees something is wrong and helps as much as Kira will allow. Kira replicates her father's directions for making a computer in Russian and claims Lynne can read Russian, filling Lynne in on what to say. This brings them back to Kira's house alive. They find a sample of the computer Rona wants, and when Rona decides to dispose of them, Kira grabs it and uses it to protect herself and Lynne until they can hide in the restroom, and Kira insists that Rona put her mother on a plane for Willistown. By this time, the bank teller has sent the police after the kidnappers. When Rona receives a call that Kira's mother's plane has crashed, she shoots her partner in crime, Jacques. The police come in and have to shoot her because she won't calm down. Kira and Lynne are safe, though Kira is devastated.
During the next year, Kira lives with Lynne's family and her mother lives in a mental institution. Kira rebuilds another computer like the one her parents invented. She plans to take her mother to Crythe (they are the only Crythians left), figure out who her mother wants to come back as (her mother Toria, her aunt Sophia or both), and provide her with the memories to do so.
Best part of story, including ending:
The writing style keeps you reading to the end; it makes it difficult to put the book down. I also like the idea of this unusual, previously unknown language (Crythian) that Kira's parents speak.
Best scene in story:
When Kira has her memories fully unlocked when flying back to Willistown, she has been told so many conflicting things about where she is from and who her parents are or aren't. But suddenly, she knows the truth, and it turns out to be what she had grown up thinking: Her mother is truly her mother, but her mother no longer remembers it.
Opinion about the main character:
Kira is a typical teen who wants normality, but as things go haywire around her and she accesses her parents' memories in her mind, she begins to understand her parents better.