Kate Kincaid, returning to River View, Massachusetts for her junior year in a regional high school, discovers that much has changed since she moved away in the sixth grade: students from affluent River View and working-class Hastings Bay across the river are feuding. The feud heats up when a nuclear waste disposal site is planned for one of the two communities. Kate becomes friends with Pippa Brown, a Hastings Bay girl, and the two begin one-on-one to end the feud and hope that a common adversity, the nuclear waste dump, can bring the warring factions together. Kate's best friend, Jon Westgate, who has tried to stay neutral, becomes embroiled in the feud. Kate's attempts to make peace are often disastrous.