Sixteen-year-old Joy Wright is far from naive, but more inexperienced than most girls her age. She has never been kissed, nor felt the throes of young love. After Joy's middle-aged father suffers a fatal heart attack, she and her mother move to Wavering, Illinois, in hopes of rekindling some form of a relationship with the grandparents who disowned her mother two decades ago. In this small country town of six thousand, Joy learns to embrace the changes that come with womanhood, discovers that she bears a striking resemblance to a murdered woman, and meets Alec, a mysterious boy from school, whose own family life will become entangled with hers in ways she never imagined possible. Only Joy's instincts can save her from a fate worse than death.