Cat Kinsey is the fastest runner in Brownwood School. She's hoping to win the sixth-grade girls' race and the Winners' Grand Finale, too, as she did last year. But her old-fashioned father won't let her wear slacks like the other girls. Cat's so mad she decides not to run at all. Still, it's hard to ignore the excitement about the races. Some kids say she's afraid to race the new boy, Zane Perkins, a barefoot Okie who says he can beat her. Cat's been told to stay away from such people, but finds she can't ignore Zane or his family. As Cat is drawn into their lives she sees things differently, until one evening she meets Zane in a race that could mean life or death.