Eleven-year-old Celeste Marconi is a dreamer, a writer, a collector of words. But then a new whispered word trickles into her life: "Subversives." Her beloved country of Chile has been taken over by a military dictatorship, and subversives--people considered a threat to the new government--are in increasing danger. Celeste's doctor-parents must go into hiding to remain safe, and Celeste, heartsick, must say good-bye to them. But the situation continues to worsen. More and more people are "disappearing," and soon Celeste herself is sent thousands of miles away, all the way to the coast of Maine--where she doesn't have a single friend or know a word of English. How can she possibly call another country--a country where people eat breakfast out of a box, where the cold grays of winter mirror the fears that envelope her--home? WIll she ever see Chile again? And is she does--what, and who, will she find there?