When Oksana and her family move from the Ukraine to Florida to begin a new American life, her physicist father delivers pizza at night to make ends meet, her cranky mother sits at home all day worrying, and her flamboyant grandmother relishes the attention she gets from men. All Oksana wants is to be as far away from her family as possible, to have friends, and to be normal—and though she constantly tries to do the right thing, she keeps getting in trouble.
As she grows up, she continues to misbehave, from somewhat accidentally maiming the school-bus bully, to stealing the much-coveted key to New York City’s Gramercy Park, to falling in love with a married man. After her grandmother moves back to Ukraine, Oksana longs for the motherland that looms large in her imagination but is a country she never really knew.
When she visits her grandmother in Yalta and learns about her romantic past, Oksana comes to a new understanding of how to live without causing harm to the people she loves. But will Oksana ever quite learn to behave?