When Jasira, a 13-year-old Arab-American girl, is exiled by her mother to live with her strict Lebanese father in Houston, she quickly learns that her new neighbors find her and her father odd and exotic. Worse, her budding womanhood makes her traditional and hot-tempered father uncomfortable. Lonely in this unfamiliar environment, Jasira seeks to connect with those around her and finds both comfort and cruelty. Discovering that her ethnicity and newfound sexuality make her a target, Jasira must confront racism and hypocrisy both at home and at school. Jasira is drawn to her Army reservist neighbor, Mr. Vuoso, who captivates her attention with his stacks of men's magazines and confusing sweet talk. As she struggles to make sense of her raging hormones, she finds friendship and physical intimacy with an older schoolmate, Thomas. But even that relationship causes problems when her father discovers that Thomas is black. Driven by a deep longing for affection and acceptance, Jasira becomes the embodiment of the racial, sexual and political agendas of these very different men in her life--her father with his old world ideas of women; her dangerously alluring neighbor, Mr. Vuoso, and Thomas, who offers the promise of some feeling of connection through sex. When Melina, a concerned neighbor and expectant mother, tries to help her, Jasira's explosive situation comes to a head.