In 1975, twelve-year-old Tanya Heaslip leaves her isolated home in outback Australia and is sent sixteen hundred kilometres south to a girls' boarding school for an education the bush can't provide.
The freedom of her young life gives way to an unfriendly world of stone and concrete, high walls, small skies, uniforms, harsh words and endless rules that make no sense.
In common with many children of the outback, Tanya struggles to adjust to boarding school. Yet, over time, her fellow boarders become her new family and Tanya survives both by writing, and by telling her stories of family, race meetings, gymkhanas, campdrafts and stock camps to her loyal friends.
Tanya's pain of losing family and the trauma of dislocation are ultimately transformed into five life-changing years. She emerges stronger and more resilient, now determined to carve out her own life.