Marin County, 1985. Cally, a 17 year old California girl, was brought up for the first five years of her life in the idyllic chaos of a commune, and has lived since then with her father on a houseboat. Her father is gallant and sweet but not always successful in his efforts to hold onto her and their makeshift home. Her mother was the hero, or so the story goes, having gone underground for political reasons soon after Cally was born. And then there is Sabine. She is the most beautiful woman in the world. A runaway who has been running for 34 years. After a long absence, Sabine is drawn back to San Francisco by the impending death of her oldest and only trusted friend. A homecoming for a woman who doesn't want to come home. When Cally sees Sabine for the first time at a concert, she is immediately drawn to her, thrilled by her eccentricity and wildness. She is a woman who is free, a pirate for Cally to compare the safe harbours of the mothers who hung around her childhood commune. In Sabine she recognizes something of herself. Cally follows Sabine, pursues her, and gradually is allowed in. They go out and get in to trouble, stay in and trade deep secrets. Meanwhile her father is desperate, trying his best to hold on to a daughter slipping from his grasp and into adulthood. But the more involved Cally becomes in Sabine's life, the more she hungers for correction, hoping for a new sort of home, and envisioning a joint escape. Then the clues begin, Cally follows them slowly like a thread. Finally, when the drama swirling around Sabine's life is threatening to take Cally under, Cally realises that the woman she is so entranced with may be none other than her long lost mother.