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Nadia is a sixteen-year-old Iraqi girl. Most of her life she has lived with her family in the south of Iraq, in a rural setting where her parents have managed to make a living raising goats and vegetables.

At the age of fifteen she was kidnapped by a wealthy family from Samarra and forced to work in their brothel. She escaped with the help of a Syrian boy about her own age (Hakim). After her escape, she joined her family, which had been displaced to a refugee camp near the lake, Buhayrat ath Tharthar, in central Iraq. Following the death of her father, the entire family was taken back to their rural home.

But life is seldom so simple and neat. Within a short time, an American Pilot (CWO Alvarez) visits with a request that Nadia accompany him back to Samarra. Nadia was needed by a joint US-UK hostage-rescue team to help locate hostages held by the same family that had once kidnapped Nadia.

After deep soul searching, Nadia made the decision to help the hostage-rescue team. Part of her decision was based on the identity of one of the hostages, part based on wanting revenge on the family that had kidnapped her.

At the end of the novel, Nadia is offered a job with a Non-government Organisation that specialises in bringing aid and supplies to Iraq in energency situations. To take the job, she would have to move about 200 miles away to Basrah. She is faced with another major life decision - should she stay and help her family with the goats and the gardening or should she move to the city and send back her earnings to help the family in another way?