Embarrassed by her mother's all-too-public civil rights activities in the fall of 1963, 17-year-old Beryl Rosinsky flees her home in Washington, DC, and begins college at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Here, in the segregated South, she means to reject her destiny as her mother's daughter by conforming and fitting in. But she finds herself in a world of uncomfortable paradoxes. Strict rules for women don't apply to men. Southern good manners don't extend to the black girl who lives alone on the other side of the dorm. Soon Beryl begins to appreciate her family's values -- and learn who she really is.