As she lies in a hospital bed, wounded from a gunshot, Beth recalls a past that begins in the cotton fields of Arkansas in 1949 when she is nine years old. There, she sees colored people for the first time, and when she attempts to befriend one of the little girls she's told that white folks are not meant to mix with "nigras." The difference in the white and black world becomes apparent. After leaving the south at age seventeen, Beth pursues her interest in the history of black Americans and learns of horrors they endured; she also discovers their many achievements and contributions to society. In 1960, when hospitalized for injuries sustained in an automobile accident, Beth becomes friends with a black nurse, a life-altering event. Her journey will lead to conflicts and uncertainty, but she always has the support of her loyal friend, Jim. She learns the value of friendships and love, and more than she ever wanted to know about bigotry and hate.