It is 1955 and two cousins, Nora and Alicia, are growing up in Cuba, where the sea is a beguiling turquoise and at night the lights glitter like stars along Havana's shoreline. But revolutionary storm clouds are gathering, and as Fidel Castro comes to power, banks are closed, religion outlawed, and food shortages begin. Nora and her family emigrate to California; Alicia and hers stay behind.
But Nora has left her heart in Cuba with her cousin. As the years pass and she becomes a woman, Alicia writes of her marriage to Tony, the birth of her daughter, and the terrible privations ordinary Cubans are suffering.
When Tony is arrested for anti-revolutionary behaviour, and Alicia and her daughter's survival becomes increasingly hand-to-mouth, Nora knows she must leave her privileged life in America and return to help them. But Cuba, and Alicia's life as a single parent, is like nothing she has ever imagined...