Sixteen-year-old Eliza is going through rumspringa, an adolescent exploration that occurs in Amish communities. For the summer, she is lucky to go to Chicago to work as a nanny for Rachel and Sam and kids Ben and Janie. "English" life, as the Amish refer to non-Amish communities, is a startling new experience for Eliza. Microwaves, televisions, light bulbs, telephones and washing machines are all novel technologies that Eliza is not used to. Shopping malls are a shock to the senses. Soon enough, however, Eliza is bored with the long spans of free time that convenient appliances create.
Dependable beau Daniel in the Amish life and exciting Josh in the English world gnaw at the girl for attention. Eliza meets Beth Winter, a former Amish lady, who is able to educate and support Eliza through her decision-making process. Eliza's mother has several heart-to-heart discussions with her about her path in life.
Josh shows her the ways of English courtship. Friends Jill and Valerie educate Eliza about shopping and Homecoming. Daniel gives her a wood carving he made of a bird in a nest. Eliza misses the easy chatter between herself and Mary and other friends while making friendship bread at home. The simplicity and face-to-face contact of Amish ways clash with the sparkle, glitter and materialistic convenience of the modern world.