1950s Liverpool. In the tight-knit community of the Four Streets, two girls are growing up. One is motherless and hated by the cold woman determined to take her dead mother's place. The other is hiding a dreadful secret which she dare not tell to anyone. The people of Four Streets laugh, grieve and hope together. But what can they do when a betrayal at the heart of their world comes to light?
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No one knows who did it, least of all the police. Somewhere, in this tight-knit Irish Catholic community, someone must know something. Fourteen-year-old Kitty Doherty, pregnant with the dead man's child, is a danger to everyone who needs to keep the secret. Her mother, Maura, and best friend Nellie's grandmother decide the girls must be spirited away to Ireland to await the birth of the baby. But it isn't easy to keep a secret that big.
On Christmas morning Kitty Doherty gives birth to her baby - who is immediately taken away for adoption in America. But Kitty's life is hanging by a thread, her only hope a dangerous journey through snow to Ballymara and her Irish family. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Sean and Alice try to set up a new life, far away from the families they have deserted in Liverpool.