In a dystopian world where the lakerise has splintered society into the wealthy and the waterlogged, an impoverished lakeside girl struggles to escape a life spent caring for her abusive, disabled, father.

When she is allowed to attend school for the first time, she sees hope in an education and new friends, or, failing that, marriage.

Faced with the condescending and unrelenting attentions of a rich boy cursed to love her and a rapidly deteriorating home life, she must choose between life with a husband who scorns her and life as it is under a father who rules her.

Will she settle or will she enlist the help of her new best friend, and dare reach for the love of a reserved classmate who hides a secret not his own?