A young British girl born and raised in India loses her neglectful parents in an earthquake. She is returned to England to live at her uncle's estate. Her uncle is very distant due to the loss of his wife ten years before. Neglected once again, she begins exploring the estate and discovers a garden that has been locked and neglected. Aided by one of the servants' brothers, she begins restoring the garden, and eventually discovers some other secrets of the manor.
10-year-old Harriet dreams of leaving her home, where she doesn't feel she's needed by her mother and sister Gwen. When her mother dies in a car accident, she really starts to make plans for leaving and she finally does so together with her childlike (mentally ill) friend Ricky.
When the kinetic Rory moves into his room in the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled, his effect on the home is immediate. Most telling is his friendship with Michael, a young man with cerebral palsy and nearly unintelligible speech. Somehow, Rory understands Michael, and encourages him to experience life outside the confines of home.