Bridget Quinlan is a spirited 13-year-old when the Irish potato famine of the 1840s shatters her life. Although her home is a hovel with few possessions, her family survives as long as her father can grow a good crop of potatoes on his small piece of land. Tragedy strikes when crops fail and typhus spreads, killing one of the boys in her school and then her brother, Rory.
With soldiers evicting the ill and unemployed, the Quinlans are forced to accept the offer of a passage to Canada. Appalling conditions onboard contribute to many deaths so that by the time they reach Grosse e, Quebec, Bridget and her sister are alone in the world. The two are adopted by a kind farming family and gradually settle into their new life. After all the sadness and loss, a surprising turn of events brings them lasting joy.