Jane and Maggie form an unlikely friendship in a small Indiana town during the summer of 1961. In an old attic they find a diary telling of Jane's mother's illicit love for a young black man in the 1940s and the revelation leads Jane to question her own past.
After Jane learns she'll be heading to college at Radliffe and Maggie endures an abusive incident her father, the two friends take to the road in search of clues and answers to Jane's mother's mysterious past. When they reach their destination, a young black naval officer, James, introduces himself as Jane's brother from their mother's early affair.
More revelations follow but Jane must return home to prepare for her trip to college. Maggie decides to leave her abusive father and join Jane on the journey up north.