Everything about New Tacoma in Washington Territory comes as a shock to Hildy Bacom when she and her family move there in 1876. Cows and pigs roam the muddy streets some people live in lean-tos or hollowed-out tree trunks and her first friend Mrs. Money runs a shop with a parrot on her head. Hildy's new life includes a new best friend and a romance plus a lady of the night Indian and lots of Chinese. Over her first year on the frontier Hildy encounters a skunk a bear and a lost Chinese baby. From fires to landslides to the unexpected appearance of her cousin Elsie Hildy's life in a rough frontier town isn't at all what she expected.