BOBBY and ABBY are cousins who live in a northern British Columbia town. The story is set in the fifties, and descriptions of homes and lifestyle are an integral part of the novel. Bobby is at Abby's house in her upstairs room and they talk about Bobby's job and Abby's boyfriend in Rupert. Abby asks Bobby to go with her for the weekend. Her sister lives in Rupert so they will stay with her and babysit while she is at work. At first Bobby says no because she will be a third wheel but is persuaded to go if her mother will allow her. Bobby walks home. Her mother scolds her as and she rebelliously does dinner chores. The family sits at dinner and the family quirks reveal themselves throughout the meal. She gets permission to go with Abby to Rupert.
On the bus, the personalities and appearance of the two young women begin to emerge. Bobby is the more effusive and out-going, and Abby is the quieter but strong one. They talk and laugh about things. They flirt with the bus driver. Bobby looks back on when the two became close at a family picnic whey they were six and both lost a contest for a doll.
In Rupert, they go to where they are going to stay and settle in. The sister leaves for work. At first, Bobby is sulky and bored. Abby suggests she make the best of it, and Bobby realizes she is right. They discuss marriage, working mothers, and children. They get ready to go out. Bobby bewails her pathetic wardrobe. As they walk to meet GARY and his friend JIM at the circus, they continue to talk about clothes. Bobby admires the beauty of Rupert. They wander around the circus waiting to meet up. Bobby has cotton candy and thinks about the paradoxes of life. They boys arrive and they leave.
They drive around and decide to go to a diner on the outskirts of town. After sitting a while, Gary and Abby go out to the car. Jim and Bobby stay and get to know one another. They both reveal they have significant others. Their conversation covers Bobby's background, interests and memories. Jim describes some of the characters that frequent the diner. They joke around. Bobby describes some of her dating life including how she learned to French kiss. They are starting to enjoy one another's company.
They all leave the diner and go driving and park in an old gravel pit. Jim and Bobby continue to talk about what is going on in the world and what they want to do with their lives. They begin to realize that although they are both going out with someone else, they are attracted to each other. They decide to go outside for a while. They find a spot to sit. Jim tells her about his band. The finally give in to the attraction between them and kiss. They return to the car and all decide to meet again the next day.
The next day they meet up. Jim is fixing his car. Bobby keeps him company and Abby and Gary go for a walk. Jim tells her that he is sorry but the car will take all his time because he is going to play in another town with his band that evening. Abby and Gary return. Bobbi tells Abby she is going home that night on the bus.
Bobby returns to work. Her boss convinces her to learn to work in the dining room for the rest of the summer. At home, Bobby learns to relate more with her family. She realizes she could be a better big sister. Time goes by and she wonders why she has not heard from Jim. She goes to meet Abby and finds out Jim was in a car accident the night Bobby left.
Bobby feels crushed. At first, she is resolved to go see him but life and her job get in the way. She is preparing to go to university also. Her friends at the cafe have a farewell lunch for her.
Bobby gets her hair done specially for her train trip. Her father sees her off.