The novel starts with Doctor Homero Noline watching his sleeping daughter, Cosima and Halimeda after they spent their day planting flowers in the cemetery. The first chapter end with the father noting how his daughters are close to one another but extremely distant towards him. The action then jumps in august 1985 when Codi or Cosmina takes the bus back to her town, Grace, where her ill father lives. Codi has been living with her sister Hallie and her lover Carlo in Tuscon but when Hallie left, Carlo did that too so Codi decided to return to her hometown. Codi plans to live with her friend Emelina and teach biology at the high school and take care of her father. When Codi arrives at her friend’s house, she sees Emelina and her twin sons, Curty and Glen get ready to kill a roster. Emelina was one of Codi’s childhood friends with whom she stayed in touch. Emelina remained in her hometown and married her childhood sweetheart ,Juan Teobaldo Domingos, with whom she has five sons: the twins, Nicholas, John Tucker and Mason. They also live with Emelina’s mother in law, Viola.
After the rooster is killed, Emelina and Codi sit down and talk. Emelina tells Codi that her father starts to lose his way around town. When Codi remains alone, she thinks about her sister and how alike Hallie and her father are. But while Homer and Hallie will do anything for a cause they believe in, Codi doesn’t share their point of view and thinks that some mountains can’t be moved, not matter how hard you try.
In chapter 3, a dream that Dr. Homer has is described. The Doctor dreamt that his daughters got lost while they were out gathering fruit. They were caught by a great storm and the girls were unable to return home. The Doctor feels that something is wrong because he realizes that his girls grew up and left so he wakes up.
On Monday morning, Emelina is stressed because her husband was sent to El Paso because of a railroad accident together with Loyd Peregrina, a man Codi used to know. Codi then spends her day visiting the people she knew but the situation is tense and she feels awkward around them. That night, she wanders on the streets and ends up near her father house but decides to wait until morning to visit her father.
The sixth chapter is a memory and it presents Codi at fifteen, a young girl and pregnant with Loyd’s child and with no one knowing about it. Looking back at her pregnancy, Codi thinks that her pregnancy kept her distant from those around her.
Cody and Emelina organize a fiesta for Labor Day and Loyd is one of the men invited. Codi talks with Loyd as if nothing happened and they even start to flirt. While at the party, Codi overhears some men talking about how their trees are dying because sulfuric acid is dumped into the river by the Black Mountain Mine.
Codi goes and visits the Hospital where her father works and there she meets with Uda who tells her that she looks just like her mother. Codi also remembers the moment when her father told her about his illness and that he doesn’t want Hallie to know about it. Thinking back, Codi begins to understand her father and his desire to keep his disease a secret. Codi then enters the hospital and finds her father working in his dark room.
The night before school starts, Codi thinks about how many things the other seem to know about her and how much she forgot about her past. When Codi tells Emelina that she meet with Uda, Emelina tells Codi that Uda is the woman who took care of her and her sister when they were young and that Uda’s husband was the man who saved Codi and Hallie when they remained stuck on the riverbank.
The first day of school also brings back memories from the time Codi spent in the same school she ended up teaching in. that night, Codi and Emelina spend their time talking about their childhood and school experience. A few days after the first day of school, a letter from Hallie reaches Codi in which Hallie tells her sister about her trip through Mexico and Codi thinks about how much her sister cares about those around her.
Loyd visits Codi on Friday and tells her a bit about himself, how he had a twin brother and about his past and his heritage as a Native American. When Loyd leaves, he invites her to go with him to Whiteriver the next weekend and she accepts.
Meanwhile, Homer remembers his daughter’s pregnancy while he examined a pregnant teenager but he decides to keep it a secret.
When the weekend when Loys and Codi are supposed to go to Whiteriver comes, they cancel their plans because Loyd is required to work all weekend. Loyd and Codi continue to talk regularly and one day they end up kissing. That same night, Codi has a strange dream about her sister.
Codi gets accustomed with her new life as a teacher and one day she discovers something strange in the river. During a fieldtrip, Codi decides that they should gather water from the river and then examine it under the microspore. When they back at school, they are unable to see any life forms in the water because it has a high acid content. When Codi talks with Viola about it, Codi finds that the Environmental Protection Agency required that Black Mountain divert the water away from where people live even though that will mean that the orchards will be deprived of water.
That Saturday, Codi spends her time with Emelina and they begin to talk about a possible relationship between Codi and Loyd. Codi tells Emelina that she has no intention of starting a relationship with Loyd but at the same time she knows that if she will have the chance, she will sleep with him. On Sunday, Cody and Loyd visit the reservation where they end up making love. They talk about their past and Loyd apologizes for the way he behaved in high school. Codi fears that he may have figured it out that she remained pregnant but he appears to have no idea.
Homer remembers the day when Codi had a miscarriage when she was about six months pregnant. He remembers that she locked herself in the bathroom and then insisted that her sister bring her an old sweeter that belonged to her mother. Later that night, Homer sees Codi walk out of the house with a bundle in her arms that she buried down in the arroyo. When Codi returned home and asked for painkillers, her father gave her medications bets suitable for her condition.
Meanwhile, Codi decides to teach about birth control during her classes after one of her student quit school after she remained pregnant. While the school didn’t approved her decision, Codi did it anyway arguing that she doesn’t plan staying there and teach for more than a year. Codi also thinks about her sister and how she encouraged Codi not to give up the fight against Black Mountain.
A woman named Rita tells Codi about her last visit to Homer and how he seemed to confuse her with his own daughter. Rita asks Codi if she will take her father’s place as the town doctor but Codi tells her that it will never happen.
When Codi reaches the hospital, her father’s assistant tells her that Homer left to run some errands so she goes searching for him. When Codi finds him, Homers asks her why she decided to quit medicine and Codi confessed that she never really wanted to become a doctor and when she got scared during a procedure she decided to just give up.
Time passes and just before Halloween, Codi receives a letter from her sister telling her that she is fine despite the fact that there has been some Contra activity in the area she lives. On Halloween, Codi goes trick-or-treating with Emelina’s children and also she visits the grave where she plants new flowers and cleans up the graves. It is then when Codi discovers that her father’s last name was Nolina and that he was actually a local and a descendent of the Gracela sisters.
The doctor’s memories become hazier as time passes and he even forgets who Codi is. Meanwhile, Codi tries to find more about her family while also participating in meeting held by women’s clubs in Grace about the damage done to the river by Black Mountain. Codi proposes that they should start protesting against the practice of dumping toxic waste into the river and they even plan a mass demonstration.
Hallie’s letters begin to worry Codi as she tells her about the assassination of three local girls that happened in the area where she was. Codi and Loyd’s relationship slowly develops into something more and Loyd is willing to give up cockfighting knowing that Codi doesn’t approve of them.
In order to found their campaign, the girls decide to make piñatas and then sell them into a nearby city. The sell proves to be a success so they decide to go back with 500 more piñatas.
The girls manage to make another 250 piñatas and a group of women travel to Tucson to sell them. Codi decides not to go with them and spend her Christmas on the reservation instead. There, Loyd tells Codi about his twin brother that was killed during a fight in a bar after they moved with their father in Grace to become men. Loyd asks Codi if she thinks of having children in the future and she tells him about their dead child. After Codi’s revelations, both Codi and Loyd open up about their past and childhood memories. When Codi asks Loyd if he loved her sister Hallie, Loyd tells Codi that he barely remembers her sister.
On Christmas Eve, Codi opens another letter from her sister in which Hallie tells Codi that she should not think that she is not good enough or that she has to be perfect. Codi then goes with Loyd to his hometown where she meets his family and spends a few days with them.
On Christmas night, Codi and Homer are informed about Hallie’s disappearance and the possibility that she is held in a prison camp in Honduras. Codi starts to spend more and more time with her father and she is able to find that Homer is from Grace but he went away while he studied medicine. He married her mother, Alice, and decided to return to Grace because Alice’s parents didn’t approve their relationship.
Affected by the news of Hallie’s disappearance, Codi teaches her students about the negative effects of pollution and industrialization. Meanwhile, Grace becomes known for the efforts put by the woman who fought against Black Mountain and they began to be featured in magazines and articles.
In spring, there is still no news about Hallie’s situation and while Codi talks every weak with the Nicaraguan Minister of Agriculture, there is nothing he can do. The women from Grace began to write letters addressed to the US official but they receive almost no response and while they try not to get discouraged, the situation becomes grim.
Codi is again not able to sleep properly and because of all the things she got involved in, she stops visiting her father for their nightly dinners. Carlo, Codi’s ex-boyfriend, sends Codi a letter inviting her to move with him in Telluride and the letter makes her realize that she needs to start thinking about what she will do in the not so distant future. After the weekend she spend with Loyd, Codi and him were barely spending any time together and Codi became depressed.
In spring, Homer goes for a CAT scan but he doesn’t tell Codi. Uda Dell tells her about her father and they decide to go and clean the house while Homer is gone. In the attic, the two finds photo albums dating back to before Codi was born. She also discovered that not only her father was a native from Grace but her mother as well and that the reason why her mother’s family hated Homer was not because he was an outsider but because his family had a bad reputation.
In April, Codi receives a letter from the school where she works asking her is she wants to renew her contract. Codi goes to Loyd and tells him that although she was offered the possibility of staying, she is not sure is she wants to do that or no. Loyd tries to convince her to stay but Codi is unsure of what she wants to do.
Codi receives news about her sister’s death and she and Loyd go to the Mexican Consulate where they receive a letter describing what was found. In June, Codi decides to leave Grace and join Carlos claiming that Grace reminds her too much of her sister. Codi takes a bus till Tucson and from there she takes a plane. Because the plane experienced some problems, they had to turn back and she takes a train back to Grace. Once she arrives there, she meets with Loyd and they leave the station together.
Codi arranges a funeral for Hallie and everyone came with something that reminded them of Hallie. After the funeral was over, Codi took the items that were brought and she goes to her father’s house. There, Codi asks Homer to help her burry the afghan in which she put the items the people from the community brought to her. They go together in the backyard and Codi buries the afghan there while also telling her father that she plans to stay in Grace and maybe have another baby one day. While Homer listens to her, he is getting more confused and begins to mistake Codi with her mother.
The novel ends on a positive note, in the Day of All Souls in 1989. Codi is now pregnant with Loyd’s child and while she stands by her father’s grave, she is able to see how the land is starting to be fertile again. She remembers her father and her mother but she feels at peace with her past.