Deanie is a beautiful and sensitive teenager who would do whatever her mother and her 1928 Kansas hometown find proper. Her boyfriend, Bud, has intense desires for Deanie and the two are very much in love. But, sexual pressures in society creates a rift in their relationship. She restrains herself while Bud acts on them, but with another girl. Bud's actions drive Deanie to madness. She is committed into an institution while Bud reluctantly obeys his father and enrolls in Yale. The stock market crash of '29 hits and changes the lives of both their families. Together they learn the harsh lesson of love and life.