A sleepy seaside town, in winter. Emily, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl, lives with her mother Susan. Emily never knew her father. According to her mother, he was a tom cat - a tourist who wandered into town one summer and was never seen again. Susan is struggling to forget the past. She hasnt spoken to her fervently religious parents for years, not since she shamed the family by falling pregnant at fifteen. Emily actively pursues a friendship with father-figure Stephen, who spends his days fixing boats at the harbour. But Stephen has his own troubles, constantly haunted by the past, unable to keep the loss of his wife and baby daughter from his thoughts. Stephens sister Elizabeth is married to the town policeman Carl. Elizabeth suspects Carl is being unfaithful but is scared to uncover the truth. Her son Joel has a secret love of his own. When a Bible turns up with an intriguing inscription, Emily is the first to realise that hoping for change is not enough.