Emilia is from a Romanian gypsy family, but she has never fitted in. She looks different, and with her talent for drawing she is different. Locked into a room in a refugee hostel somewhere in Europe, by parents who want to 'keep her safe', Emilia begins a secret picture diary of her life. The pictures reveal the persecution her family suffered in Romania, their flight to England and Emilia's unexpected happiness at going to school for the first time.
There she is, the girl in a long red skirt, with her pale plaits swinging below her waist. She speaks no English. Frankie only knows that she is a gypsy from Romania. And he can't keep his eyes off her. It is a terrible shock when his neighbours on the estate react violently against Emilia's people. Worse, it is his own mother who is leading the protest. And at that point, as Frankie realises the extent of his own family's prejudices, his life begins to change.