The daughter of Polish immigrants growing up in the 1830s on the Missouri frontier, Nadya knew she was not like other girls. But when she became a woman and the Change came, she discovered just how different she was. For Nadya was a shape changer, a werewolf like her Polish immigrant mother and father before her.
After coming through a great personal tragedy brought about by her trusting nature and burgeoning sexuality, Nadya heads west to California, seeking a place to be wild and free. Nadya befriends the more cultured Elizabeth and the prepubescent Jenny, and together, the three young women fight their way across the vast American frontier. En route, they encounter rattlesnakes, Indians, the remains of the cannibalistic Donner party, and Elizabeth's repressed sexuality, which leads to an affair between her and Nadya.