A 15-year-old provincial girl moves to Rome and finds her new tony private school is a microcosm of the cultural and political divisions of Italian society. When her parents, Giancarlo and Agata, move from a seaside town in Tuscany to an ailing aunt's apartment in the big city, Caterina is ready for something new. Dad, a teacher in a tech school, has undisguised social ambitions and is delighted to see a list of famous last names attending his old alma mater, where Caterina will also be going. Her class is split between revolutionary no-globals and rich kids who parrot their parents' conservative ideas. Both sides try to bring the new girl into their sphere of influence. She's first drawn to Margherita, a mercurial hippie princess whose mom is a politically active intellectual. This first phase of Caterina's social education ends when Margherita gets her drunk and tattoos her arm. Giancarlo arrives, intending to get Margherita's mother to find a publisher for his novel, which he has given her daughter to read. Abruptly switching from fawning to outraged, he insults everyone before dragging the vomiting Caterina home. Caterina soon falls in with the flighty Daniela and her circle of rich, cell phone totting mall-rats. After making her over into an urban sophisticate, they introduce her to a quiet young aristocrat with a disapproving mother and to Daniela's father, a right-wing undersecretary in Berlosconni's government. As her parent's marriage disintegrates in the face of her father's social frustrations, Catherina finds comfort in her extended family and hope for the future in a budding romance (and perhaps the prospect of emigration someday) with a boy from Australia.