Eleven-year-old Maggie Cruise lives in Fennis Wick, enclosed and protected from the outside world by a boundary, beyond which the Quiet War rages and the dirty, dangerous wanderers roam. Her brother Jed is an eldest; revered and excused from doing the chores because, when he turns 14, he’ll go off to camp, off to fight gloriously to keep his family and the people of Fennis Wick safe. Special. A hero. Her younger brother Trig – what can you say about Trig ‘cept that everyone loves him. But Maggie’s just a middler; invisible and left behind. All she can look forward to is digging up potatoes and doing never-ending piles of laundry. She can never leave Fennis Wick; she must stay inside the boundary and she must keep away from the wanderers. Forever.
Then, one hot September day, she meets Una, a hungry wanderer girl in need of help, and everything Maggie has ever known gets turned on its head.