Annabel runs away from the safety of her foster home with her rebellious boyfriend and must learn to survive on the fringes of society in a dangerous city where drug dealing and rape is a common occurrence. Annabel is a teenage girl who, for some unexplained reason, cannot speak. She has the nickname Ghost because she has the habit of spooking people due to the fact that she doesn't make much noise to alert people of her presence. She's been living in a foster home called the Noble Spirit Ranch for a few years. Annabel's foster parents established the ranch for abused horses and the foster kids are taught how to groom and care for the horses, an activity Annabel finds very therapeutic. Occasionally, Annabel's birth mother will come to visit her there. Apparently, Annabel's birth mother got involved in drugs and criminal activities that ended up with the accidental death of Annabel's grandmother. Since then, her mother has been trying to go through rehabilitation in order to be able to get Annabel back from the foster care system. Annabel expects that soon, her mother will take he away for good. One day, there is a new addition to the group home – Graydon Fox. Annabel is intrigued by Graydon who seems to be a guy of few words which she prefers. But everyone in the house thinks Graydon is bad news.
As the days pass, Graydon starts to show an interest in Annabel who, out of all the other girls, hasn't given him much attention. Though Annabel secretly likes him she is also wary of him as he seems like a dangerous charmer. She inadvertently saw him and one of the other girls have sex in the barnyard and she doesn't know what to make of it. When Graydon finally decides to make a move on her, she cuts it off early. He explains that the other girl is just a slut but she's different. Over the next few days, Graydon starts to win her over with his charm. Eventually she and Graydon sleep together.
One night, while Graydon and Annabel were out fooling around in the barn, one of the horse's stalls catches on fire. Graydon, thinking that he and Annabel will be blamed by their foster parents, convinces Annabel to run away with him. Graydon calls his friend Cooper and they get a ride to downtown Ottawa where Cooper gives them a place to stay. Annabel feels guilty about what happened and she knows that she can never return to Noble Spirit Ranch. She thinks she can trust Graydon to take care of her. Graydon and Cooper decide to get a job painting houses and they leave Annabel to take care of cooking meals. Cooper doesn't like Annabel because she doesn't speak and doesn't “earn her keep”. On the weekends, Cooper throws huge parties where people come to drink and do drugs. Graydon wants to go out clubbing with Annabel but Annabel is too afraid of big crowds.
One day, Annabel discovers Cooper's girlfriend, Francine, lying in a puddle of blood. Apparently Cooper had found out Francine was pregnant and had stuck something in her in order to induce an abortion. Annabel takes Francine to the hospital because she's afraid that Francine's going to die from blood loss. Cooper's brutality and coldness towards the whole situation scares her.
A few weeks later, Graydon finally convinces Annabel to go to clubbing with him. At the club, Annabel sees a hooker that turns out to be one of the girls from Noble Spirit Ranch. The girl lashes out at Annabel, blaming her for ruining everything but before Annabel can figure out what happened, the girl is kicked out of the club. A few days later, Cooper throws another party, this time he roofies the punch. He pretends to have a truce with Annabel in order to get her to drink some of the punch. After drinking it, she is almost knocked out and Cooper rapes her. Graydon discovers them but he is unable to do anything about it since he feels like he owes Cooper for taking them in. Annabel feels betrayed and disgusted as she feels like Graydon has sold her into prostitution.
Annabel runs away from Graydon and Cooper's apartment and she spends the next few weeks wandering the streets, eating food from abandoned trays in the mall food court and sleeping in alleyways. She writes a letter explaining all the criminal activities Cooper has been up to and gives it to the police. A few weeks later, she observes as Cooper and Graydon are arrested. She feels bad that Graydon is arrested but she also thinks she's saving his life as he could have gotten more involved in Cooper's criminal activities.
One day, as Annabel is crossing the street, she is hit by a car. She wakes up in a hospital where the doctors tell her they had to identify her in order to get her medical records. They explain that she can't speak because when she was young, she had a heart attack of sorts that caused a blood clot to impair a portion of her brain responsible for speech. They think that with the proper therapy she should be able to speak again. Meanwhile, a lawyer arrives and tells Annabel that her mother is dead and she has inherited her grandparents' estate. The lawyer tells her that because of her inheritance she qualifies for emancipation from the foster care system. Annabel is shocked.
As the weeks pass, Annabel slowly learns how to speak and walk again. She wants to see her foster mother and apologize about the fire in the barn but her foster mother isn't allowed to contact her because she had been charged with negligence. Her lawyer tells her that once she is fully recovered she can go and visit Noble Spirit Ranch. In the meantime, Annabel buys her own apartment and furniture. A few days later, Annabel visits Noble Spirit Ranch. Her foster parents are overjoyed to see that she is alright. They explain that they know Annabel wasn't responsible for the fire because Graydon has a history of starting fires. Annabel realizes that Graydon had set her up to convince her to run away with him. The story ends with Annabel revisiting all her favorite spots in Noble Spirit Ranch and feeling like she's home again.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like that this story portrays how a young person can slip between the cracks and fall into a life of drugs and crime due to one stupid decision and also how that same person can get their act together to survive and triumph over their situation. It was disheartening to see strangers look down on Annabel, refusing to give her help and grouping her with the other druggies and criminals just because she wanders the streets in dirty clothing and picks through the trash.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Annabel returns home to Noble Spirit Ranch at the end of the story and she visits all her old favorite spots. After the chaos, grime and danger of the city, Noble Spirit Ranch is refreshingly removed from that turmoil and a place of calm and peace of mind for Annabel.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Annabel maintains a hopeful outlook on life even when her life becomes difficult and dangerous. I also like that Annabel tries not to judge people too quickly, though sometimes this backfires as Graydon turns out to cause her more misery than happiness.