Jean Gilkyson is living in Iowa with yet another brutal boyfriend when she realises this kind of life has to stop, especially for her nine-year-old daughter, Griff. But the only place they can run to is Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean's family are dead and her father-in-law, the only person who could take them in, wishes she was too. Einar Gilkyson blames Jean for the accident that took his son's life, and has chosen to go on living simply because without him his oldest friend, Mitch, wouldn't survive. Bound together like brothers since the Korean War, the intimacy between the two men has deepened after Mitch was crippled in a bear attack while Einar helplessly watched. As Einar and Jean struggle with their memories, it is left to spirited and courageous Griff to turn their loss, wrath and recrimination into reconciliation, love, and, most importantly, a new life.