Ailis Belle and Adelio Beaumont find themselves in dire straights after their only parent, their mother, dies in a local hospital after a long illness. Belle, the oldest of the two, barely seventeen, is forced to start making grown-up decisions. Belle knows she cannot take care of Adelio. She isn't even sure she can take care of herself. She decides to seek out a home for him and enlists the help of a local preacher to find Adelio a loving and adoptive family. Belle then sets off into the world on her own, heading for Louisiana, the state where both her parents were born and raised. There she hopes to carve out an existence for herself.
Along the way, Belle is befriended by Gideon "Highshine" Brown, a young man from the Ozark country of Missouri, and a young man with a desire to take his trumpet-playing talent to New Orleans and make a name for himself among the jazz clubs there. Belle and Highshine's friendship gets off to a tumultuous start. When Belle is ensnared in a life-threatening situation, Highshine seeks out help from the only power big enough to gain her freedom, God. He finds God's help in the person of Jaimin Aiton, a preacher of the gospel ministering to the lost in New Orleans.
When Jaimin enters the picture, the lives of all three take on new directions, with a few detours along the way. The biggest hurdle they face is the onset of World War II and the very real danger that some of them may not come out of it alive.