Holly Sargis is a 15-year-old girl living in Fort Dupree, South Dakota in 1959. She has been raised by her father, a sign painter, and their relationship is highly strained as a result of her mother’s passing due to pneumonia. One day, Holly meets Kit Carruthers, a 25-year-old garbage collector and deeply troubled Korean War veteran. Resembling the late James Dean, Kit charms Holly and the two fall deeply in love. Though she couldn’t possibly have known it at the time, the romance is doomed to take a destructive turn.