Meggy is crippled and is very, very grumpy and full of self-pity. She's shipped to her father in London, but he doesn't want her when he finds out she's a girl. So Meggy has to find a way to survive and try to worm her way into her father's good graces. But she might not want to be there. Her father is trying to turn metals into gold, but he's also crooked--mentally, not physically like Meggy. With the help of some friends (she's surprised she can make them), Meggy survives in the rough city of London, and figures out what she really wants out of life.