In the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918, Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father, Jonathan Taylor joins his uncle's missionary as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect Jonathan from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at her imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel's father's drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave, or will he stay and let love bloom?