In the deep south, twins, Desiree and Stella grow up in a small country town obsessed with whiteness. They could pass for white, but their family has a long black history connected to the foundation of the settlement. When the twins witness the brutal murder of their father at the hands of a mob of white men who storm their house, Stella has nightmares. This memory haunts her so that in their teenage years, the twins run away to New Orleans. In the room they share over the next couple of years, Desiree finds a note — Stella has packed and left. Where has she gone? And what will Desiree do once she realizes that the man she marries several years later is becoming more violent?