Nory Ryan's family has lived on Maidin Bay on the west coast of Ireland for generations, raising a pig and a few chickens, planting potatoes, getting by. Every year Nory's father goes away on a fishing boat and returns with the rent money for the English lord who owns their cottage and fields, the English lord bent upon forcing the Irish from their land so he can tumble the cottages and clear the fields for grazing.
All day long, Nory dreams of food, coin [money], and a faraway place in America called Brooklyn, where no one is ever poor or hungry. But when a deadly disease strikes the Irish potato crop, the Ryans' dreams for a better life are destroyed. With her father and older sister far from home, Nory must be the one to find enough to eat, look after friends and family, and keep their hopes alive. Will Nory's family survive the Great Hunger?