Twelve-year-old May lives in a less than thriving oceanfront bed-and-breakfast run by her single mother. Her life is filled with the frustrations and promise of youth, complicated by a loving if distracted young mother who strives to care for her two children without forfeiting fun and passion. May puts her faith in the things that elude her -- her absent father, the London city life left behind, the acceptance of the popular girls who have boyfriends -- and wonders if her life will ever change. When a kindly writer and his glamorous editor come to lodge in the weeks before Christmas, opportunities are in the air. But then May's playboy father, estranged from the family for years, drops in and threatens to freeze the delicate new possibilities stirring in all their lives.