Sixteen-year-old Lilja and her only friend, the young boy Volodja, live in Estonia, fantasizing about a better life. One day, Lilja falls in love with Andrej, who is going to Sweden, and invites Lilja to come along and start a new life.
Out on parole after 8 years inside Bill Hayward returns home to find his now 11 and 15 year old sons abandoned by their mother and fending for themselves. Unwilling to play Dad, an uncaring Bill is determined to move on. Although Dean the older boy has found a job and is doing his best to be a father to his younger brother Jimmy, the arrival of Bill has brought them to the attention of social services.
Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.
Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.