Twelve-year-old Elsie was looking forward to her end-of-school pajama party, until it was cancelled due to her mother's illness. Her mother has depression, which puts her in the psychiatric hospital once again. Conflicted with anger, guilt, and shame, Elsie tries to bargain with God, by promising good behaviour in exchange for healing her mother. But Elsie can't seem to keep out of trouble. She fights with her sisters, breaks into a swimming pool, and lies to her friends. Elsie's struggles cause her to lose faith in God and alienates her from her Mennonite family.
During a search for a lost cat, Elsie and her sister Lena must hide in an old barn to avoid a sinister kidnapper. That night, Elsie has a glimpse of heaven and rediscovers God's presence in herself and the world. It gives her the courage to make one last, desperate attempt to help her mother.
Despite its serious situations, the story is often light-hearted, funny, and profoundly moving.