Tess's life has been ruled by her violin. While she loves the music, she suffers from the pressures placed on all child prodigies. After a crushing failure in her first performance as a soloist, Tess retreats from New York to spend the summer with her father in Montana.
Intertwined with Tess's story, is the story of Frederick. He is a teenaged homesteader trying to make ends meet in turn of the century Montana. Jeanette Ingold skillfully jumps between the stories of these two young people with similar struggles in vastly different time periods and life styles. Through their experiences, she shows the joy and heartache of finding one's place in the world and taking on the responsibilities of life. Ingold provides a realistic view of both homesteader life and the struggles of a truly talented musician.