When Bella learns of the murder of her beloved half brother by political extremists in Somalia, she's in Italy. The two had different fathers but shared a Somali mother, from whom Bella has inherited her freewheeling ways. An internationally known fashion photographer, dazzling but aloof, she comes and goes as she pleases. But now that her teenage niece and nephew are effectively orphaned, their mother having abandoned them years ago, Bella feels an unfamiliar surge of protectiveness. Putting her life on hold, she travels to Kenya - where the two are in boarding school - uncertain whether she can, or must, come to their rescue.
When their mother resurfaces, reasserting her maternal rights and bringing with her a gale of chaos and confusion that mirror the deepening political instability in the region, Bella has to decide how far she will go to obey the call of sisterly responsibility.