As students at the University of British Columbia, Sylvia and Lydie met a year ago when the younger woman agreed to be Lydie's tutor. Lydie's warmth and irrepressible charm have worked their way past all of Sylvia's boundaries. Struggling with guilt and loss after a terrible event in her childhood, Sylvia finds in Lydie a compassion and joy for life that is irresistible. Lydie captivates everyone with her stories, believing in the power and healing that come from stories and song. Taken from her family at age twelve and put into a residential school, she has fought to hold on to the values of her culture. After years of loss, she still remembers the song her mother sang to her on the shore of Quiet Lake. Lydie is determined to pass that on to her sons, and now to Sylvia as well. The women's stories intertwine with the voices of a guilt-ridden elderly priest, Lydie's damaged sons, Mitchell and Jonah, and Miriam, Sylvia's mother, who has never been able to move on from the past.