It is the summer of 1972, and Katie has just turned eighteen. She was “finished with school and ready for real life. It was summer, and anything was possible.” When not hanging out with her friends Nanny and Liz, Katie tries to catch the eye of Luke, recently back from Vietnam, whom she has loved from afar for years. Katie and her town, Elephant Beach – a fictionalized version of Long Island’s Long Beach – are both on the verge: Katie of adulthood, and Elephant Beach of gentrification. But not yet: Elephant Beach is still gritty, working-class, close-knit; and Katie spends her time smoking and drinking with her friends, dreaming about a boy who barely sees her.