The setting of this story is China, in the early 20th century, the story takes place between 1925-1927
The main characters are Jean, a 12 year old girl, her parents, Arthur and Myrtle, who are Christian missionaries. The Hull family, also missionaries, along with their children, Andrea and David, who is adopted.
The plot of this story involves Jean's struggle growing up in China. She has never seen her home country, America.
"Jean has only her imagination and the letters from her grandmother in Pennsylvania upon which to base her image of "home." As she dreams about the U.S., she almost forgets how much she cares about China."
"Images of home and roots fill the episodes in this book, developing ideas about what it means to be a foreigner and what it means to belong. Jean's own journey of self-discovery complements this theme."
The story is somewhat autobiographical combined together with fiction. The narrative emerges through the voice of 12 year old Jean.
Jean's feelings about China are mixed; she loves the countryside and people and speaks the language fluently, but she cannot stop wondering about America.
Plot: Jean wishes to visit her homeland, America.