Turner Buckminster is purely miserable. Not only is he the son of the new minister in a small Maine town, but he is shunned for playing baseball differently from the local boys. Turner feels as if everyone young and old is watching every move and every mistake he makes.
One huge mistake is his forbidden friendship with smart and lively Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves. Lizzie shows Turner a new world along the Maine coast, from digging clams to rowing a boat alongside a whale. When the powerful town elders, including Turner's father, decide to drive the people off the island to set up a tourist business, Turner stands alone against them. He and Lizzie try to save her community, but there's a terrible price to pay for going against the tide.