Thirteen-year-old Anetka lives in Russia-occupied Sadowska, Poland, in 1896. Annetka loves her village, and doesn't have "America fever" as many other villagers do. She longs for a letter from her father and for his return from America, where he has been working in a Pennsylvania coal mine for almost two years. But when Tata's letter finally arrives, Annetka learns that he has arranged for her to marry Mr. Stanley Gawrich. In return, Stanley will pay for her passage to America. Motherless and without a dowry, Annetka can't refuse her father's wishes and sails to America to marry Stanley and care for his three little girls. Five months after their wedding, Stanley dies in a mining accident. In order to take care of her family and pay off his debt, Annetka takes in boarders. She falls in love with one of them, a former Russian soldier named Leon. The United Mine Workers' union forms and strikes erupt in collieries throughout the region. Four hundred immigrant mine workers-including Annetka's beloved Leon-march to Lattimer in protest of their grueling working conditions. In an attempt to disperse the crowd, a sheriff and eighty-seven deputies fire upon the unarmed marchers. Annetka witnesses this historical massacre in which nineteen strikers are killed and thirty-two are wounded. When Leon is missing, Annetka fears she has lost her true love forever.