Ten year-old Harriet (Evan Rachel Wood) dreams of escaping her colorless existence. She lives with her alcoholic mother (Cathy Moriarty) and promidcous older sister (Mary Stuart Masterton) the proprietors of a rural Pennsylvania motel. Frequently misunderstood by classmates and family, Harriet prefers her time alone, free of ridicule and abuse.
For Harriet, fate arrives in the form of Ricky (Kevin Bacon), a mentally challenged yound man who is passing through town with his mother. Their common bond as misfits draws Harriet and Ricky to one another. Together, they happily hatch a plan to alter their destinies. In the face of bitter resistance, Harriet and Ricky cling to their friendship even as their families try blindly to separate them.