Palestine, October 1946. In a convoy of trucks and rusting jeeps, nineteen young men and women drive down to the Negev desert under cover of night. Their mission: to create a Jewish settlement in defiance of the British rulers of Palestine. Working in frantic haste, they erect three primitive tin huts and surround them with a barbed wire fence. By the first light of dawn, Kibbutz Noam is born.
The story is told through the eyes of Hava Chira, an idealistic young English girl who has left a comfortable middle-class home to go to Palestine as a pioneer. Hava quickly learns the meaning of deprivation--living without running water or electricity or any comforts, virtually cut off from the outside world. In the first turbulent years, she experiences hardship, danger, excitement, even war-and develops a deep connection to her new community.
Threading through the novel is the story of Hava's passion for Amir, a handsome young Israeli resistance fighter who epitomizes her dream. At first she idealizes Amir, but as time goes on, she begins to have doubts-and is faced with an agonizing decision.